“What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.”– Karl Meninger
There is no doubt about the fact that educators play a pivotal role in shaping the minds and futures of their students. As the old adage goes, “Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” So, the job of the teacher doesn’t just end at school but extends far and beyond.
Students carry the lessons they learn from their teachers throughout their lives and to be an effective, efficient teacher is to not just have a deep understanding of the subject matter, but also the ability to engage and empower students.
While the quest for excellence in education is never-ending, it is important for teachers to take time out for self-reflection. Reflective practice allows educators to assess their teaching, identify areas for improvement, and determine ways to ensure professional development.
It allows them to be more self-aware and work towards enhancing the quality of education in the classroom. In this comprehensive guide, we will be dealing with reflective questions for teachers. These thought-provoking inquiries cover topics such as efficient classroom management, and ways of instructing students, and a wide spectrum of teaching-related topics, assessment techniques, and so on.
So, no matter where you are in your professional journey, these questions will help you stay grounded, self-aware, and motivated.
The art of reflection in teaching
Reflection for an educator is a continuous process and it is through this that they gain insights and redefine their teaching strategies. It is not a one-day process or a one-week workshop – it is a way of life. Every once in a while it is important to sit down with your thoughts, ask yourself important questions, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and try to become a better educator.
In a fast-paced world where students are continuously learning new things through various avenues, it becomes important to evaluate what value your teaching methods hold for them. To critically evaluate your teaching and make necessary changes is of utmost importance and becomes a testament to your professional dedication.
Over the next few sections, we will explore a series of reflective questions grouped into key areas of teaching.
1. Classroom Management
The first batch of reflective questions should deal with how teachers handle their classes. Classroom management is the most important aspect of their profession since students can be disruptive or easily distracted.
- How do I handle students not learning in my classroom?
- How effectively do I maintain a positive and inclusive learning environment?
- Do I address the individual needs of my students?
- How do I cater to the academically weaker section of my class?
- Do I ensure that students learn to work in teams and become team players?
- What strategies do I employ to handle disruptive students in class?
- How do I handle students failing to answer questions in class?
- How do I improve the class’ concentration power and create a disciplined environment, conducive to learning?
- Do I understand the nuances of handling a diverse student group and how do I promote cultural sensitivity and consciousness among students?
2. Personal Reflection
Personal reflection allows you to grow as a teacher and as an individual. Here are some questions you must ask yourself:
- How do I deal with setbacks in my professional space?
- What are my core beliefs as an educator?
- How has my passion for my profession evolved over the years?
- What are my strengths as a teacher?
- Do I have any biases that may affect my teaching or dealings with students?
- How do I overcome my biases to treat students with equality and respect?
- How do I handle stress and decompress after school?
- What role do self-care and personal growth play in my potential as an educator?
- How do I handle negative feedback from colleagues and senior educators?
- Am I open to negative feedback from students?
3. Goal Setting
Goal setting is an integral part of a teacher’s professional development. It helps the educator establish a clear plan for development and track their progress. Here are some important reflective questions:
- What are my long-term career goals in the field of education?
- What milestones can I set to track my progress throughout the year?
- What are my professional strengths and how can they benefit my students?
- Which are the areas of my teaching methodology that I can work on?
- What strategies can I use to stay motivated in the face of hardships and setbacks?
4. Teaching Methodology
It is crucial that teachers focus on evaluating their educational approaches and teaching methods and make changes if necessary. These are a few reflective questions teachers must ask themselves to critically evaluate the impact their teaching approach has on students:
- How can I modify my teaching methods to cater to a diverse group of students with varying learning potential?
- How do I encourage student participation in my teaching?
- What resources (such as technology, multimedia, etc.) can I incorporate to enhance my teaching?
- What methods can I use to determine student comprehension and response to my teaching?
- Am I open to constantly updating my teaching methods to match the latest pedagogical trends?
- Do my lesson plans align effectively with the curriculum standards and intended learning objectives?
- Do I provide opportunities for students to discuss what I teach and ask questions?
- Am I aware of my ethical and moral responsibilities as a teacher, such as promoting mutual respect, empathy, responsible dealings, and honesty among students?
- Do I encourage students to approach me with questions, not be afraid of making mistakes, and not be too harsh on themselves?
5. Assessment Handling
Assessments are an integral part of student life but often they serve to test their power to remember instead of their comprehension abilities. As such, it is important to design assessments that are fair, relatively easy to handle, and test a student’s comprehension skills rather than retaining power. Here are some questions you must ask yourself:
- How do my assessment methods align with the learning objectives?
- How do I design assessment methods that accurately reflect students’ understanding?
- How do I communicate my expectations to the students to help them prepare for the assessment accordingly?
- How can I help students monitor their own progress?
- What ways can I use to mitigate the psychological impact of assessments on students such as anxiety, nervousness, and fear of failure?
- How do I ensure that the assessment caters to a diverse group of students and gives each of them the chance to display their understanding of the lessons?
- How effective are my feedback and grading practices in supporting the students’ growth?
6. Student Motivation
Improving students’ motivation is essential to help them stay focused and take more interest in what they learn. Here are some self-reflective questions you must ask yourself:
- How do I motivate students to ask questions and communicate clearly with me?
- Do my teaching strategies keep students engaged and encourage them to learn more independently?
- How can I better connect and communicate with disengaged students?
- Am I mindful of the role the external environment (family, friends, mental illnesses, etc.) plays in a student’s inability to stay focused?
- Are there instances where I can give real-world examples and tasks to keep students engaged?
- How do I help students overcome obstacles in their learning journey, hone their problem-solving skills, and help them stay motivated?
- How do I create opportunities where students can learn from each other and find ways to help their peers?
- How can I help students establish clear learning goals and learn more about effective time management?
- How can I teach students the importance of self-reflection?
7. Parent Engagement
Parents or caretakers play a key role in the child’s life – much more than you do in those eight hours that children stay in your care. Therefore, it is important to involve parents in the child’s progress and ensure that you clearly communicate any questions or conflicts you have with them.
- How effectively do I collaborate with parents or guardians to ensure the holistic development of the students?
- Did I communicate my conflicts with parents in a constructive manner?
- Do I share tips with parents on how to handle their high schoolers better? Does this help?
8. End Term Reflections
The end of the year is the best time to reflect upon students’ performance, the things that went right in the classroom, and the things that might be improved upon from next term. Here are a few end-term reflections for teachers:
- What topics did students struggle with the most during the current year?
- What topics did students enjoy the most during the year?
- Were there times during the year when I felt that I was falling short as a teacher?
- What tools did I use during the year for teaching that had a positive impact (e.g.: visual charts, audio-visual elements, etc.)
- What teaching resources did I employ and were they helpful for me?
- What did I do to relieve stress and stay focused during the school year?
How to motivate yourself?
Teachers, like any other adult, often feel demotivated or lost in their lives and careers. You may lose sight of your long-term goals and may feel dejected. However, it is important to remember that this is just a temporary phase and you can regain your motivation through self-reflection, taking time off work, and focusing on other things that you like.
You can go through TED talks for motivation, talk to your peers, and find new ways of approaching your work. Remember, the role you play in a student’s life is of paramount importance and the kindness you display will certainly find its way back to you.
No matter how good a teacher is at their job, there is always the potential to improve. Personal and professional reflection draws your attention to your teaching habits and makes room for growth.
Students are incredibly perceptive and realize when they are being irrational, irritable, or discriminatory and therefore, it is essential to create an environment that feels safe for young kids.
Through the process of self-reflection, you can learn new techniques of teaching and fresh ways of approaching the curriculum. To become a better teacher, you should be able and willing to engage and motivate the students under your care. This can be best achieved by improving your teaching methods and being mindful of your shortcomings.
Having a 10+ years of experience in teaching little budding learners, I am now working as a soft skills and IELTS trainers. Having spent my share of time with high schoolers, I understand their fears about the future. At the same time, my experience has helped me foster plenty of strategies that can make their 4 years of high school blissful. Furthermore, I have worked intensely on helping these young adults bloom into successful adults by training them for their dream colleges. Through my blogs, I intend to help parents, educators and students in making these years joyful and prosperous.