Reflective Teaching Practices in ELT
I recently attended Kotesol’s National Conference. It was themed upon “Reflection and Prof. Development”.
I had a great time (thanks to all who attended my own following day workshops!) and sat in on some excellent lectures/presentations. But the highlight was the opening plenary by Dr. Thomas Farrell. I was taken with his very practical focus and its obvious from the get go that he’s been a “real” classroom teacher for years and understands things from the feet first. Further, I was really impressed by his “emotion”. Like that wonderful and classic video of Ken Robinson, speaking so eloquently and with humor, Tom really engaged the audience with story, humor and anecdote. He connected with people and it was this, rather than any empirical knowledge that really won me over.
He’s written a great book on the subject, “Reflective Language Teaching, from Research to Practice”. I’ve added a nice review of this wonderful book by none other than the esteemed Andrew Finch, a guy who really “gets it”. Find a Cambridge book note here. Find or purchase the book, in our Bookstore, under Member’s books. A necessary read. Read Dr. Farrell’s beliefs in brief, HERE.
This book is also a classic
I really believe that the heart of a “good” teacher is being reflective. And not necessarily as we always think, alone in a room, pondering existence. No, just thinking the lesson through, engaging in conversation with peers, asking students for their thoughts, being brave enough to confront ourselves truthfully and honestly.
Let’s face it – we teach a lot of hours in our lifetime. It befits all of us to put some thought into how we can do it better. I think that this is a natural phenomena, this “want of the better” – as much as sex, food, freedom. Maslow would have put it on his hierachy if he’d of been where I’ve been! Like learning, wanting to do better, is a natural state but doesn’t happen because of the given environment. So to me, it is all about creating the right environment for oneself. Dr. Farrell talks about this, “situational” side of reflectiveness and I really think we should emphasize it. Put yourself in a state and a situation from where you CAN be better, get better, as a teacher.
Part of reflectiveness is what we do here each day, the hundreds and many days, thousands, who visit EFL Classroom 2.0. We are putting ourselves in a place where we might get better, become better teachers. Last weekend at the conference, sitting and listening to Tom, I experienced the same thing. Thanks for your contributions to ELT Thomas, you’ve made a difference!