“We don’t have any time for reflective practice,” explained my brother-in-law, a junior high school science teacher. He went on to say that he and his colleagues were just barely keeping their heads about water with their teaching loads so they rarely had time to thoughtfully consider changes to their methods or curriculum.
This was in response to my telling him that I had just finished teaching for the semester and was in the phase of considering what had gone well and what I’d like to change for the next time around, and was amending my syllabus accordingly. I hadn’t considered before that this was a luxury, to have time for reflection at the end of the term. But I suppose it is–I only teach one class at a time because the rest of my day is spent on administrative duties. So that one class garners the lion’s share of my mental attention and I consider each of my successes and frustrations in the classroom fairly closely.
This was on my mind as I read AHA President Ken Pomeranz’ article “Some Habits of Mind Historians Keep Hidden” in the recent issue of Perspectives. Like my research practices, most of my teaching practices tend to be “hidden habits” rather than techniques that I discuss often with colleagues or friends. And I plan to change that, because I’ve had some rather remarkable experiences in the classroom during my time at Chapman, and I’d like to discuss some of what I’ve learned–in the hopes that it will not only be of interest to my readers, but also to help me to improve my own teaching as I reflect on what has worked best for my students’ learning.