Whenever learning happens, it’s important to consolidate that knowledge so that we are able to use it in the future. I remember reading Piaget and Vygotsky during my Dip. Ed; including their theories about ‘private self talk’. This self talk helps a child to construct their understanding of reality. The imagery is of building blocks put together and rearranged. It’s a sign of maturity when that babbling talk moves inside the head. Sometimes, though, it is important to take that talk out of the realm of thought and back into the real world. To reflect on what we have learned by writing it down.
All throughout my teaching training, the word that was always repeated was reflect. “Make sure you reflect on your practicum experience.” “Reflect on how your lesson went.” Reflect. It was stressed that these reflections are not simply a written record of what happened (though that can be useful in itself). Rather, a considered examination of why it happened. Can we change various inputs and expect different outputs? How was I feeling? What did I learn? This process of reflection enables us to be more aware of the process of teaching and to apply what we have learnt to our teaching style. I like reflecting, even though it is sometimes difficult, emotionally, to process all that is going on. I know that in my first year teaching, I was definitely in ‘survival’ mode and did not reflect on my practice as often as I should have. When you are drowning in a sea of paperwork, writing more just isn’t appealing.
Here I am, though, in the second year of teaching. I’m still new to the profession. But this year I feel drawn to reflect more. I hope this blog will be useful to me.
What about blogging? To prepare your thoughts for an audience requires you to test your ideas and clarify your thinking. Communication is the goal. A blog is a fantastic place to muse, to post your thoughts, to publish, to dare to think out loud. I’ve seen first hand the power of educational blogging through my FIT2001 series. Whilst the incentive was 3% of my final mark, I really enjoyed the process of writing and summarising the content. Other students seemed to find this beneficial as well, as my website statistics showed a spike of page visits before the exam!
Now I am an English teacher, I wonder how I can bring reflective blogging to my classroom. I am not so keen on encouraging my Year 7 students to start their own public blogs for the world to read. There are so many potential issues with cyber bullying and cyber safety. I wonder if there is some kind of walled garden blogging tool that we can use? This would enable the students to express themselves to their peers.
I teach Year 10 literature, and this semester I am asking them to create a writing portfolio of six pieces. I think that next semester I will ask them to create a blog so that they can reflect on what they are learning.
I have also kicked around the idea of a class blog, where the students put together content explaining what we have learned. This would be a good place for parents to see what their students are doing in class. I might launch this in Term 2 with my Year 7 students.
Lots of ideas to mull over. But I think that the process of writing them down has kick started my thinking process and will allow me to look back at these ideas as I go.
(As an aside, this text has been edited using the Hemmingway app.)