Written By: Robyn Shulman
It is ever so apparent that teachers have been going through some rough times. Lay-offs, high expectations, the community, state demands, various types of learner and behavior needs, safety, technology, and instability are only some of the many pressures teachers face on a daily basis.
Why self-reflect? Self reflection is the strongest tool all people have in order to control their own feelings, behaviors, and decisions.
When teachers self reflect, they are providing invaluable information to themselves. However, the answers must be faced with an honest approach, and change will only occur if action is taken.
For self-reflection to be successful, the following must occur:
1. Prepare to be honest with yourself. If you cannot look in the mirror with 100% honesty yet, then wait until you are ready.
2. Ask yourself some of the questions mentioned below (these can be adapted to various professions), and answer them honestly.
3. Prioritize the answers.
4. Realize that the only change which can take place is the change you manifest. You cannot control another person’s feelings, behavior, nature or personality. You can only control your own. Most importantly, it is up to you to decide how to react to situations.
5. Take action by making changes (slowly).
6. Choose not to take action if deemed appropriate.
7. Reflect on your actions and changes; what worked, what didn’t work, how do you feel?
8. Remember, this is a journey, not a race to the finish line. Growing, learning and making changes does not end. Everything you do will have cause/effect on those around you.
Here are some questions teachers can ask themselves during a self-reflection:
1. Do I enjoy my profession? How can I make my job more enjoyable?
2. Do I bring positive or negative energy into my classroom? How can I change this?
3. Are there parts of my profession in which I feel anxious or intimidated (such as technology, new pedagogy, strategies)? If so, who can I go to for support?
4. What are my own biases about learners? How can I change these views?
5. What have been my top successes as a teacher? How can I build upon those?
6. Do I know how to work with an ever changing population of kids (ESL, special needs, etc.)? If not, who can I go to for professional development and/or advice?
7. How do I feel about my relationships with my co-workers and administrators? How can I change my relationships for the better?
8. What are my wishes for my students and how can I best help them achieve their goals? What has worked and what has failed?
9. What are some ways I can manage stress?
10. Am I aware that I have the power to control how I feel and how I react in situations?
Teaching is learning come full circle. Live life for who you truly are and the potential person you can become. Every life you touch will be affected by who you choose to be.
This blog post is dedicated to my amazing teacher and friend, Dr. Bernadette Herman. Many thanks to her for providing the wisdom and the tools to create this piece.