Friday, June 20, 2014

Reflection is Important - What you do after you reflect is professional growth!

Summer is a great time to reflect on the year.  Many of us just completed the evaluation process, showcasing the amazing things that took place throughout the year, along with setting professional growth goals for the future.  I know… the “evaluation process” does have some negative feeling tones due to the political uncertainties regarding the process.  We should change the name!  Let’s call it the “professional growth process.”  Seems a bit more positive and reflective (especially, when discussing effectiveness – maybe a future post).  For the purposes of this post, we will call it the professional growth process. 

Our district utilizes the Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching Proficiency to generate conversations, while establishing effectiveness and goal setting.  We also utilize lesson reflection questions, for our instructional conferences, after announced and unannounced observations.  Examples of questions are as follows:

-          In general, how successful was the lesson?  Did the students learn what you intended for them to learn?  How do you know?
-          If you were able to bring samples of student work, what do those samples reveal about those students’ levels of engagement and understanding?
-          Comment on your classroom procedures, student conduct, and your use of physical space.  To what extent did these contribute to student learning?
-          Did you depart from your plan?  If so, how, and why?
-          Comment of different aspects of your instructional delivery (e.g. activities, grouping of students, materials, and resources).  To what extent were they successful?
-          If you had a chance to teach this lesson again to the same group of students, what would you do differently? 
Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching Proficiency and lesson reflection questions are extremely important, and can truly enhance professional growth during an instruction conference.  With that said, true self-reflection should go deeper than lesson effectiveness.    

Any job needs honest self-reflection.  Asking profound self-reflection questions, while understanding yourself and how stakeholders might view you, will truly improve your performance and maybe even the quality of your work experience. 

Examples of profound self-reflection questions:

·         Do my students like me?  Do I like my students?  Do I connect with them by creating positive relationships
·         Do I create a collaborative culture of safety and empowerment within the learning process, where students can be risk-takers? 
·         Do my parents like me?  Do they know how much I care for their children and enjoy teaching? What would they say about my ability to communicate with them? 
·         Do I surround myself with positive people?
·         Do I like my job?  Can I do better?
·         Do my colleagues like me?  Do they feel supported by me, or do I create anxiety for them?
·         How do I respond to others that are negative?
·         Do I create my own stress?
·         Are my greatest strengths creating weakness?  Am I blinded by my own ambition? 
·         If everyone at my place of work had my attitude, what kind of work environment would it be?
·         Do I have a growth or fixed mindset?
·         Do I let disappointment in educational politics and uncertainties creep into the classroom?
·         Do I find the professional growth process (evaluation) as a nuisance or a chance to grow and develop my craft?
·         Am I defensive when receiving constructive criticism?  Do I make excuses, or use constructive criticism as a chance to grow professionally?
·         Do I take instructional conferencing with my principal seriously?
·         Do I create opportunities to grow professionally (through professional development, twitter chats, professional reading, etc.), or do I think it is someone else’s job to seek out opportunities for me?
·         Am I the voice of “all good things” in education or the echo of what is bad?

I feel extremely fortunate to work in a positive building, with an amazing staff; however, even the most positive educators should ask these questions from time to time.  These are questions that I utilize when reflecting, which sustains my focus, being the best that I can be, for our school community and ultimately our students.  I look at self-reflection questions as an opportunity to be the positive voice in education, while growing as a professional.  If you truly want to grow, I believe that you need to think deeper than lesson reflection.  One must self-reflect, knowing that they are the only one who can truly answer these questions.

As you reflect over the summer, start thinking about these deeper self-reflection questions, supporting your motivation to carry you into the next school year.  Always remember the importance of being the Positive Voice in education!  Continue to grow and embrace change, creating opportunities for professional growth, while enjoying the best job in the world… teaching children!

Thanks for reading and make this summer a time for relaxation and reflection.



  1. Keith I always enjoy your constant growth mindset. These are excellent questions for us to ask ourselves. You took something that is often viewed negatively as a way to grow and improve. Excellent!

    1. Thanks! I appreciate the feedback. Always looking for ways to support educators in a positive way. If we love what we do then our students will truly benefit. Have a great start the the summer!

  2. This is AWESOME!!! I think that the reflection process is very underrated in education (for students, teachers, and administrators). I know that the Danielson model contains some reflection, but as you said, it doesn't go deep enough. I feel that the reflection questions from the Danielson model will be viewed as more of a "rubric" of "are we doing what we need to".

    The list of questions you provided is WONDERFUL!!! I am going to go through each of them today! Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thank you for the thoughtful comments. These questions seem to help me and takes self-reflecting to a different level. I appreciate the feedback!

  3. Thanks, Keith, for sharing these questions! Summer is a perfect time for self-reflection, without the busy-ness of the school year. Your questions range from connections with students to ownership of feelings to mindset. I love the range of questions, and I will be working through these MYSELF this summer. Thank you for helping me to grow!


    1. Thanks for reading. The questions seem simple but can be powerful when answering. I appreciate the feedback. Have a great summer!

  4. As always I enjoy following and learning from your blog. This topic is on that can be a stressor for educators and I like how you have shown how it can be a positive experience and a true opportunity for personal and professional growth! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, I appreciate you following and giving feedback. We never stop growing as educators. Have a great start to the summer!