- How do each of the following qualities (openmindedness, responsibility, wholeheartedness, and collaboration) contribute to reflective teaching?
Openmindedness is “an active desire to listen to more sides than one, to give full attention to alternative possibilities, and to recognize the possibility of error even in beliefs that are dearest to us” (11). Openmindedness is a significant component of reflective teaching; a reflective practitioner must look at all approaches to a situation and predict and reflect on the possible consequences – both negative and positive – of those alternative approaches. Being openminded means that teachers acknowledge that there is more than one way to teaching, not just one’s own traditional way, and it also means that teachers ask themselves why they have chosen the approach they use.
Responsibility “involves careful consideration of the consequences to which an action leads” (11). These consequences that teachers must consider include three different types, including personal, academic, and social and political consequences (12). Reflective teachers must assume this responsibility – being aware of the consequences of their approach and actions, reflective teachers can better predict successful situations in their classrooms. Although teachers will never be able to fully know what will happen in advance, reflective teachers have a slight advantage in the fact that their reflection allows them to preemptively manage unexpected outcomes of learning.
Wholeheartedness means that teachers “regularly examine their own assumptions and beliefs and the results of their actions and approach all situations with the attitude that they can learn something new” (12). Wholeheartedness is the combination of openmindedness and responsibility – reflective teachers both see all perspectives to approaches in teaching, and they also examine the possible consequences of their teaching, good and bad. Embracing one of these attributes is a step in the right direction, but to fully be a reflective teacher, there cannot be one without the other; reflective teachers must wholeheartedly invest their time in being thoughtful about their approaches and the results of those strategies.
Collaboration is an attribute of reflective teaching that Schon has appeared to neglect in his theory on reflective teaching – “although reflection can at times be a solitary and highly individualistic affair, it can also be enhanced by communication and dialogue with others” (24). Collaboration has become an essential component of reflective teaching because teaching is not an isolated profession; by using the human resources around them, reflective teachers can better understand alternative perspectives and approaches to teaching. They can share a problem with a colleague and ask for their suggestion on how to prevent the problem. This colleague may have had a similar experience, or they may simply provide that unbiased point of view that allows the teacher to step back and question their intentions. In addition, by having that dialogue and sharing how you will change your approach, you can have your fellow colleagues on the “same page”, so that, if appropriate, they can install such approaches in their classrooms in order to create a sense of consistency among students.
2. Re-read Teresa’s “teacher as technician” and “teacher as reflective practitioner” responses on pages 2-3 in Chapter 1. What is “technical” about the first response, and what is “reflective” about the second response? What does this tell you about reflective teaching?
The first response is “technical” because Rachel focused on the students as the problem instead of her approach – she “focused on devising ways to present those students with more specific consequences for not complying with the teacher’s directions” (2). She didn’t question her own goals and values, but rather questioned those of the students.
The second response is “reflective” because Rachel stepped back from the situation and considered alternative perspectives. Instead of looking at the students as the problem, Rachel turned her attention to her approach – she “began to ask herself questions about the appropriateness of the classroom’s structure” (3). She took a more holistic, self-reflective approach to prevent the problem.
As we discussed in class, the major difference between these two scenarios is who the onus is put on – a technical teacher puts the onus on students to make a change, whereas the reflective practitioner puts the onus on themselves to prevent the problem. While a teacher as technician is trying to combat the problem through their efforts, a reflective teacher is willing to question their approach, values, and intentions and look at the situation from diverse angles in order to predict possible consequences of their actions and how the students will respond.