Although it sounds really modern and sophisticated, reflective teaching is not yet a frequent task teachers of the English language are used to in practice. To put the first things first, let us look at this experiential learning cycle by Jim Scrivener1, which seems to be functioning well for teachers as well: We teach a lesson, we can recall it later, we can reflect on ‘what we did’ and ‘how we did them’, we can conclude what to do differently or the same in the coming classes, and finally we can prepare for a better teaching afterwards.
Why is reflective teaching important?
The practice of reflective teaching is important to teachers and especially language teachers, for it is one of the few practices which maintains dynamic and healthy teaching. Ranking high along with continuing professional development and lesson planning, reflective teaching prevents teachers entering the autopilot mode – i.e. when a teacher changes from class to class only battling with their growing fatigue. In fact, reflective teaching helps focus our attention on the responsibility of the teachers to deliver effective teaching and impacting on students’ learning. We language teachers cannot learn for our students; nevertheless, we can pave the way for their learning taking place. Reflective teaching grants us the judiciary seat after each class to listen to ourselves and form accurate and independent judgements on the way our teaching assisted, or sometimes impeded, their learning in our classes.
What is forward-looking reflective teaching?
Forward-looking Reflective Teaching is a new perspective on post-teaching analysis. It starts from the very first and wishes to prepare for the very end. Unlike reflective teaching which mainly focuses on the ‘teaching’ phase, forward-looking reflective teaching observes both ‘teaching’ and ‘pre-teaching’ phases to gather enough data and analyze it so as to produce better results in ‘post-teaching’. This approach provides language teachers with the following checklist of questions:
- How well did I plan my lesson?
- Did I design good tasks and practices for my students?
- Did I set practical assignments to my learners?
- Did I support learner autonomy?
- How did I treat errors made by my students?
- Did I deliver personalized and accurate feedback on each error?
- How important was my learners’ employability to me?
- If I were to teach the same lesson, what would I do the same?
- If I were to teach the same lesson, what would I do differently?
- What is the next step?
What is the forward-looking reflective teaching checklist?
To apply forward-looking reflective teaching and in order to bring it to our everyday teaching, we can consider the following checklist:
|Pre-teaching||Planning the lesson||Inspecting the language|
1. Did I know which Learning Objectives I was to teach?
2. Did I know which Learning Outcomes I was to follow?
3. Did I curate fine Lesson Objectives for the above?
4. Did I inspect the language chunks I was to teach carefully?
5. Did I explicitly know what Can-do I was to enable in my class?
|Pre-teaching||Planning the lesson||Designing the lesson|
6. Did I break my lesson into clear stages following each other smoothly? For example: preliminary > presentation > controlled practice > freer practice > production/ or: Before > During > After/ etc.
7. Did each of my lesson stages intend to push my learners towards the learning objectives of the lesson?
8. Did each of my lesson stages intend to push my learners towards the learning outcomes of the course?
9. To what extent did my lesson design provide my class with an adequate opportunity to practice and generate Communication?
10. To what extent did my lesson design provide my class with an adequate opportunity to practice and enable Collaboration?
11. Did I time my stages smartly?
|Pre-teaching||Planning the lesson||Designing the tasks|
12. Did I design tasks and mini-tasks in accordance with the detailed Can-Dos of the level?
13. Especially in Young Learners classes, did I set up tasks to practice concise, detailed and graded learning objectives?
14. Did I take care of Scaffolding my lesson through the tasks and practices I designed?
15. To what extent did the lesson tasks I designed, intend to challenge and develop my students’ Critical Thinking?
16. To what extent did the lesson tasks I designed, intend to challenge and develop my students’ Creative Thinking?
17. To what extent did the lesson tasks I designed, intend to foster my students’ concentration and therefore awareness in using the language chunk?
18. Especially in Mixed-Ability classes, did I consider the differences while designing tasks?
|Pre-teaching||Planning the lesson||Setting assignments|
19. Did my assignments target the learning outcomes my learners were supposed to acquire?
20. Especially in Young Learners classes, did I set assignments in favor of only ‘fun and ease’ or ‘fun and ease and outcome’2?
21. Especially in Adult and Professional Learners classes, did my homework assignments intend to develop their Employability skills?
22. Did my assignments encourage Learner Autonomy? How?
|Teaching||Treating errors||What to correct|
23. Did I treat errors or only correct errors?
24. Did I bear in mind that not every error is malignant?
25. Did I distinguish an error from a mistake sharply, and did I treat these two differently?
26. Did I tell faulty knowledge from non-existent knowledge accurately?
27. Did I apply teaching at ZPD when appropriate?
|Teaching||Delivering feedback||Delivering specific feedback|
28. Did I evaluate my students’ formative progress against some detailed learning objectives, rather than basing it on how others did in class?
29. Did I evaluate my students’ summative progress with regard to the precise learning outcomes which their level demanded?
30. Did my feedback, on my learners’ learning and oral performance, help me communicate clear and detailed expectations to the learner, with the aim for them to improve upon, in the future?
31. Did my feedback, on my learners’ learning and written performance, help me communicate clear and detailed expectations to the learner, with the aim for them to improve upon, in the future?
|Teaching||English for employability||Enabling employability|
32. Specifically, for Adult and Professional learner classes, to what extent did I take my students’ employability into account?
33. Did it matter what profession every one of my students possessed?
34. Did I curate my lesson objectives in accordance with detailed and concrete Job Roles’ learning objectives?
35. Did I tailor my lesson to some safe and practical extent to enable the distinctive ‘must-have can-dos’ of the various job roles present in my class?
|Teaching||Teacher’s performance||Techniques and principles|
36. Did I use a variety of pedagogic techniques and principles available in my teaching repertoire?
37. Did I employ the techniques well? For example: Did my distant and close monitoring go well? or: Did I use my black/white -board efficiently or: Did my backward build-up oral drills operate to the full?
38. Did my classroom management techniques work?
|Teaching||Teacher’s performance||Teaching with digital|
39. Did I put into practice my Digital Literacy to enhance my students’ learning?
40. Did Blended Teaching (and perhaps FLIPped classroom) take place in and for this lesson?
41. Did my learners know how to utilize digital tools and applications in their learning process effectively?
42. Did I employ some intentional Web 2.0 models to extend English teacher-class and/or student-student communication and collaboration? For example, through students’ Personal Learning Environments (PLEs).
43. Did I intend to teach my learners how to make a Digital Citizen?
How can I use Forward-looking reflective teaching checklist?
Forward-looking reflective teaching checklist works better if it is run through on a regular basis. Start from one class each day, and little by little change the rhythm for more. Immediately after your class and just along with your cup of coffee, or later at night prior to planning the next class, go through the checklist and add more than what you might imagine to your teaching capacity. Ask yourself each and every one of the questions patiently and note down your answers; they show you where to start from for the next class. Some of the questions in the checklist might receive ‘Yes’/ ‘No’, some might come up with such replies:
- ‘Not at all’
Forward-looking reflective teaching checklist works much better if you then manage to prepare a plan of actions to improve things for the next class/ classes. Do not feel bad if you score lots of ‘No’s, or ‘Not at all’s; instead, get inspired to reduce their presence in the next classes step by step. This checklist is a roadmap to your professional development and more importantly to the occurrence of better learning by your students; therefore, welcome it and let it run everyday check-ups on your teaching.
You can also set up friendly forums with colleagues and share your checklists. Discuss how they did better than you in inspecting the language [questions 1–5], for instance. Discover how they were able to execute a more successful error treatment [questions 23–27], or how their feedback delivery resulted in more promising students’ performance [questions 28–31]. Which of your colleagues performed much better at enabling the learners’ employability in the classes you are sharing the stories of [questions 32–35]? Ask them more questions to enrich your action plan for the coming classes. Who claims to have created the best scaffolding in their class [question 14]? How was this scaffolding created? What else did they have in their toolbox? Ask them kindly to tell you how they assembled their scaffolding. The forum can continue to cover all the different parts of the checklist.
What is my checklist glossary?
Well, you can gain even more as you go on with forward-looking reflective teaching checklist if you refresh your glossary. Read this blog if you wish to establish a better understanding of lesson planning and inspecting the language. This article provides you with a wonderful training in scaffolding your lessons. Here is a rich bank of good reads on key challenges around teaching English to young learners and professional learners – including ‘English for employability’, ‘why young learners of English deserve more’ and a lot more. Review and revise your techniques and principles in your teaching wardrobe, especially in teaching beginners, by reading this awesome page. To compile your Digital Teaching dictionary exquisitely, visit here and here. Further, you can collect a richer glossary by typing any keyword you choose from the checklist in the search tab at the top.
How does Global Scale of English (GSE) help me with my checklist?
Go above and beyond with your checklist! A coalition of lesson planning and GSE, error treatment and GSE, feedback delivery and GSE and English for employability and GSE in pre-teaching and teaching results in a more accurate Recall, a more transparent Reflect, and more forward-looking Conclude & Prepare in post-teaching. GSE brings Critical Thinking to reflection; as a consequence, our judgements looking back and our decisions looking forward, will become more realistic and practical.
Forward-looking reflective teaching checklist works best if it is accompanied by Global Scale of English and its powerful Teacher Toolkit. Years of research by thousands of experts and teachers from around the globe have resulted in a free amazing bank of learning objectives for different learner types – Young, Adult, Professional and Academic. This checklist and approach, alongside the GSE resources can further equip you with the necessary tools to succeed!
1Learning Teaching, Jim Scrivener, 1994
2Assessing Young Learners of English: Global and Local Perspectives, Dr Marianne Nikolov, 2016.