#ELTchat summary – Reflective Practice


May 31, 2015 by gemmalunn

This is the summary for the 6th May #ELTchat where we discussed the how, why, when and where’s of reflective practice.

We started the chat by defining: What is a reflective practitioner?

– Someone who takes time to think about how their lessons went, what went well, what could be improved etc (@juliacphang)

– Reflective teachers are seldom satisfied with what they do (@GlenysHanson)

– Someone who enjoys reaching out in order to improve (@rmoyano5) as in inviting collaboration and reflection (@Marissa_C)

– Awareness is a big part of being a reflective practitioner, working out why things happened / are happening in the classroom (@GemL1) and not just blaming the students (@KateLloyd05)

– Reflection involves the metacognitive aspects as if you stand out of yourself to comment on your practice (@Nafooh1988)

– Being able to ask the right questions after the lesson? When something goes wrong, we  usually sulk about it but the question is what do we learn from the failure (@HanaTicha) but also during the lesson too as reflection also takes place while teaching (@rmoyano5) and possibly before (@harrisonmike)

Picture from@VictoriaB52  eltpics

Picture from@VictoriaB52 eltpics

We then moved on to discuss: Can we train teachers to be reflective?

– I think reflection can be encouraged but it’s hard to teach as such. Providing tools and space to reflect helps a lot (@juliacphang) and stalling giving them feedback – let them evaluate self first (Marisa_C)

– Sometimes I think that being reflective is part of human nature but I believe it can be trained (@HanaTicha)

– By providing debates for example. Discussions in which issues are talked about and even analyzed (@rmoyano5)

– It can definitely be built into training. An opportunity to reflect after every lesson (@theteacherjames)

– Tools such as the ELC (Experiential Learning Cycle) can help (@GemL1)

The ELC (from @JosetteLB)

The ELC (from @JosetteLB)

We then discussed: How can teachers become better reflective practitioners?

Observe and be observed

– Go and see other people’s lessons; this helps me enormously. I relate every aspect of the observed lesson to my own teaching (@HanaTicha)

– I learned loads about teaching well from observing others, not things I wasn’t doing, but watching s/o else makes u think why? @KateLloyd05

– @Joannacre asked – How do we decide on what to look at when we observe others? Is it based on what we are not good at?

– If they have not asked u to look at specific aspects then look for things u are good at or not good at – it varies. Or use a reduced checklist of criteria – may be following what you were given or checklists u were given on the delta (@Marisa_C)

– I’ve found it useful to have observers who see what I don’t in my class (@GlenysHanson)


Either videoing a class or even just audio if you don’t have opportunity to set up a camera. Smartphone in pocket will do @harrisonmike just make sure you have consent from your school and students before doing this!

– One area that works really well for reflection is analysing your own talk: what categories of talk do you use? Mainly Management? Instructional or Eliciting talk? % important (@Marisa_C)

– @Marisa_C Watching the learners a great idea @HanaTicha wrote this great blog post about videotaping her Ss [see below for link]

– Reflection should be focused – Ts don’t have enough time to watch themselves all the time  so we need Qs for reflection- a goal (@Marisa_C) therefore it’s as good idea to focus on specific areas where you want to improve (@theteacherjames)

– I found videoing classes v.useful 4 more accurate RP things r not always as they seem/u remember, or just record snippets of class and focus on different aspects – CCQs, starting a class etc (@GemL1)

What kind of feedback do we need, in order to know if we are getting better?

– Sandwich feedback works fine (positive-negative-positive) (@HanaTicha)

– We definitely need support to deal with criticism in all its forms and use it constructively (@ITLegge)

– Feedback from students, other teachers and when possible watching ourselves (recordings) (@joannacre)

– Self feedback – notes in reflective journal – feedback from others – informal observations are great. Also, getting a record down is essential then, even if only the high/lowlights – 5 bullet pts per lesson at least (@harrisonmike)

– Getting students to write in journals is a way to get feedback as well (@joannacre)

How and where can we reflect?

Social media and blogging

– Social media like twitter and facebook groups are a great way for teachers to connect and reflect (@Marisa_C)

– Twitter has made huge impact on my work and prof choices: learn something new every day (@ITLegge)

– So encouraging blogging is a good way of soliciting reflection? (@Marisa_C)

I definitely think so! You sit down and write – CPD/reflection with yourself (@joannacre)

– Blogging, writing things down, asking a colleague for opinion seeing things through a different perspective; that all helps (@HanaTicha)

– I think so-my blog is v.new but hope to use to reflect, esp as self-employed so Twitter=virtual staffroom! (@juliacphang)

RP Groups

– RP groups are a great way to encourage / learn about RP and help people explore their teaching more (@GemL1). These could be face-to-face or also online (@Marisa_C), also beneficial to have Teachers from different schools to offer different perspectives (the RP groups in Korea are a great example) (@GemL1).


We then touched on the importance of distance and being objective whilst reflecting

– I’ve found it useful to name my emotions to get distance from them so I can concentrate on the pedagogical reflection. Also not to think about my actions in class as “good” and “bad” –  because they block me – but in more neutral terms (@GlenysHanson). Helpful to reflect in 3rd person for distance from problems and be more objective (@MarjorieRosenbe; @GemL1) – @JFanselow does a lot of good work on this aspect (@GemL1)

– Time heals all wounds. It’s good to wait a few days after a disastrous lesson and things become clear, even without reflection @HanaTicha

– Sometimes distancing yourself from the battlefield and bringing in another discipline helps a LOT (@Marisa_C)

from eltpics

from eltpics

Finally….do we always need to reflect?

– Do we need to reflect all the time? I’m not so sure. Constant analysis can possibly give feelings of burnout (@harrisonmike) but I guess we always reflect in some way after a class

(@Shaunwilden) but this doesn’t always have to be in an organised way at all (@SueAnnan)

– That’s why the 3-5 bullet point list as you go is probably best review at the end of the day (@harrisonmike)

– You have to get the balance between self-examination and resting on your laurels (@theteacherjames)

– It doesn’t need 2 always b in depth reflection could just b a few moments in class to be aware (@GemL1)

Finally I’ll finish with this apt tweet from @Marisa_C:

We learn better together and reflect better as well

Useful links / Further reading

– @HanaTicha: Observing class in retrospect

– @ZhenyaDnipro has a great blog with tips on reflection

– @JosetteLB also has a great RP blog 

– @MarjorieRosenbe: On trying something new 

– John Faneslow: Breaking rules book.

– My posts about transcribing and analysing your own talk 

“Classroom Interaction” by Malamah-Thomas OUP book on teacher talk

6 thoughts on “#ELTchat summary – Reflective Practice

  1. BerLingo says:

    A very helpful summary, thanks Gemma 🙂 definitely useful as I learn how to be a bit more constructive in my reflections!

    • gemmalunn says:

      No probs, glad it’s useful. It’s great that you are aware of reflecting and blogging etc already! You are a model newbie teacher!

      • BerLingo says:

        Ooh I don’t know about that! I think I’ve just always had a chronic case of verbal diarrhoea…!!! 🙂 but I do enjoy writing so I suppose that’s the most important thing!

      • gemmalunn says:

        Haha yes definitely and doesn’t come across like verbal diarrhoea!

  2. Zhenya says:

    Thank you very much for the post, and for the mention, Gemma! The RP groups in Korea is a wonderful example of reflecting – and not being burned out by doing so. Learning a lot from you!

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