Hosted by the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (CETLS) and the BMCC Teaching Collaboratory
Facilitated by John Beaumont (Academic Literacy and Linguistics) and Shenique Davis (Social Sciences, Human Services, and Criminal Justice)
Funded by a grant from CUNY Transformative Learning in the Humanities
Self-Reflection in Practice was a three-part series that supported BMCC faculty and instructional staff in developing a practice of sustained self-reflection about teaching and learning. This series also served as a complement to other campus initiatives such as anti-racist pedagogy, open pedagogy and OER, and trauma-informed pedagogy by providing a space for sustained reflection.
Self-reflection in Practice met three times (two hours per session) over the Spring 2023 semester. The group included 11 participants from six departments: Academic Literacy and Linguistics; Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts; Social Sciences, Human Services and Criminal Justice; Mathematics; Media Arts and Technology; Teacher Education; and the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship.
Meeting 1 – January 2023
In the first session, we defined our individual and shared goals and considered various approaches to self-reflection that matched our goals. Next, participants made individual plans, including their question(s) or focus for the semester and reflection strategy. Participant questions centered around identifying ways to develop more student-centered strategies and inviting students to be co-creators in course design, considering how joy shows up/manifests in the classroom setting (or fostering joy in the classroom setting), and ensuring that students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom setting. Then, participants constructed or proposed a reflection strategy based on the selected question or focus (see table below).
|Your question or focus||Your reflection strategy|
|How to develop more student-centered strategies||Allowing students to present their homework in front of the whole classroom.|
|In what ways am I making my class more student centered?||I’m going to work in a Word doc, mostly with voice dictation. 5-10 minutes in office hours a week.|
|What brought me/my students joy today/this semester? How can I build on that?||I am not sure about my reflection strategy. I will try a few different methods.|
|How can I make my students co-creators of the course without missing the learning outcomes?||I will let my students take more initiative and see how I handle it and where does that take the class to|
|Where is the joy, for me and for students?||Journaling 5 min after each class, maybe typing or dictation into a word doc?|
|In what capacity will I work at BMCC in the future? What will allow me to do the best work and reach students most effectively?|
|How can I make sure students feel the sense of belonging with the course? The college?||I am going to write (by hand) in a teaching journal. Maybe after each class or perhaps after each week.|
|How can I track my students better without it being horribly burdensome for me?||Paying attention to my interactions? Noting which students I’m interacting with and whose names I’m knowing?|
|How to provide an environment that fosters lover/joy in education for my students||Journaling/photography|
|How can I invite students to be co-creators of the course while meeting outcomes?||Journaling.|
|How can create a learner centered space while still hitting all of the technical metrics they’re expected to walk away with?||Teaching & learning journals for myself and students in my classes.|
We asked participants about the resources they needed to support the reflection process. Faculty expressed the need to learn more about ungrading, access to additional reference materials on reflective practice, and setting aside time to engage in reflective practice. As a result of this discussion, we started a WhatsApp group to facilitate ongoing conversations and provided participants with a resource list (see Appendix). We also asked participants to select one or two books (provided by the program – see Books section of Appendix) to support their reflective practice.
Meeting 2 – March 2023
In our second, mid-semester meeting, we explored these questions: How’s it going? What are we learning? How do we respond to what we are learning? How have things/questions changed? How can we support each other? How can we include students in our reflective practice?
To prepare for this discussion, we asked participants to contribute to a shared Padlet by responding to this prompt: “This is a space for us to share some of our experience of self-reflection in advance of our next session. To guide your reflection, we have provided some helpful questions. Respond to the questions that most resonate with your process and experience. (1) What are you noticing about your reflective process? (2) What are you noticing about your teaching or students’ learning? (3) How have you been able to involve students in your reflection process?”
Meeting 3 – May 2023
In our final meeting, we reflected on what we learned and discussed strategies to sustain our practice for future semesters. To prepare for the discussion, participants contributed to a shared Padlet by responding to this prompt: “(1) Based on your experience, what tips and insights would you share with colleagues interested in pursuing their reflective practice next semester? (2) What might be useful to you to bring closure to this experience?”
Some participants kept an ongoing teaching journal, while others reflected more on the fly. Faculty took creative approaches to reflection, using chunks of available time (e.g., while commuting) and making use of a variety of technologies (e.g., Google sheets, Notion, phone voice memos). While not everyone adopted a structured reflective practice, participants shared that simply having a space for conversation about reflection was beneficial to their teaching. Our time together laid the groundwork for an ongoing, reflective practice. As one participant summed it up: “From the wonderful group members, I have gathered a variety of ideas, tools, and sources that can guide me in my self-reflection journey… Looking at this padlet and reflecting back on the work that we have done in the group, I am ready to undertake this journey: 1. by clarifying the purpose and intention behind the self-reflection; 2. asking intentional questions; 3. being emotionally and mentally prepared for self-reflection… [T]his semester was a start but I am ready to do so much more!” Several participants echoed this desire for more opportunities such as this in the future.
Appendix – Strategies and Tools for Reflection
Culbert, P. (Fall 2022). Better Teaching? You Can Write On It. Liberal Education, AAC&U. This short article encourages you to use writing as a useful form of reflection.
Writing a teaching diary – Think © BBC | British Council 2004 This is a practical one-page approach to organizing a teaching diary.
Reflective Teaching Berkeley’s Center for Teaching & Learning (2020) In Self-Reflection in Practice, one of the books we will offer you is Brookfield (2017) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (see below). Berkeley’s approach to reflective teaching is based on the first edition of Brookfield’s book.
How To Be A More Reflective Teacher TeachThought, This resource gives 10 very practical tips for being reflective in your teaching.
Reflective Practice Faculty and Staff Toolkit The Center for Engaged Learning, Providence College, This link provides some simple frameworks for reflective practice.
Reflective Teaching Practice & IDEA Office for the AdvanReflective Teaching Practice & IDEAcement of Teaching and Learning, The University of Rhode Island, This link provides some background on reflective practice. Check out “Starting a Reflective Practice.”
Reflective Teaching/Reflective Teaching Examples Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, This resource offers strategies to engage in reflective practice through self- and external forms of assessment.
Teaching Squares Colorado State University, A teaching square is an approach to group reflection. It might be something you could try out with colleagues in your department.
Brookfield. (2017). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. Here is the link to the ebook in the BMCC library.
Venet. (2021). Equity-centered trauma-informed education (First edition.). W.W. Norton & Company. https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393714739
Davidson and Katopodis. (2022) The New College Classroom. Harvard University Press. https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674248854&content=toc
Farrell, T.S.C., (2022) Reflective practice in language teaching. Cambridge Elements Series. Cambridge University Press. (Book)
Kirpalani, N. (2017). Developing self-reflective practices to improve teaching effectiveness. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 17(8), 73-80., Practical suggestions with helpful, guiding questions.
Minott, M. (2019). Reflective teaching, inclusive teaching and the teacher’s tasks in the inclusive classroom: a literary investigation. British Journal of Special Education, 46, 226-238. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8578.12260
Open Access: https://nasenjournals-onlinelibrary-wiley-com.bmcc.ezproxy.cuny.edu/doi/full/10.1111/1467-8578.12260. Connects reflection to inclusive teaching.
Rogers, R.R. Reflection in higher education: A concept analysis. Innovative Higher Education, 26, 37–57 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010986404527, Full article available via BMCC, Speaks to the background, value, and implications of the reflective practice and how to foster such a practice.
Virtue, E. E. (2021). Pedagogical reflection: Demonstrating the value of introspection, Journal of Effective Teaching in Higher Education, 4(1), 128-142.DOI: https://doi.org/10.36021/jethe.v4i1.213, Speaks about pedagogical reflection based on phronesis- a practice of reflection that becomes regular and holistic, rather than a one-off attempt at reflection.