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How Can We Be Sure?

The Art of Reflective Teaching Practice

By Jessica Zweig
Head of Programming, Teaching Artists Training Institute; Director of Educational Programming, Play On Philly

During the summer months, Teaching Artists step away from their day to day routines, the fast-paced concert preparations of the school year and the pressures that often coincide with helping students to learn a new skill, hone their craft and develop attitudes and mindsets built for their future. Before we know it, August approaches and we jump right back in, to prepare for the coming season.

Our aim is to help our students make steady progress toward their goals, whatever they may be. But, how do we assess our own progress? How can we be sure that we are refining our teaching practice for the betterment of ourselves and our students? 

In Becoming A Critically Reflective Teacher, author Steven D. Brookfield states that  “critical reflection is, quite simply, the sustained and intentional process of identifying and checking the accuracy and validity of our teaching assumptions.” By taking time to interrogate how and what we teach, we question these assumptions, refine our practice and open ourselves up to new worlds of possibility. 

At this past year’s Regional Practicums, Teaching Artists built internal self-assessment tools to aid in their own critically reflective practice. TAs asked themselves the question: how do we define success in our teaching practice? After settling on several metrics/domains of success for themselves, TAs created a benchmarking tool to guide their work and periodically check-in on their progress.  

As we reflect on the past year and prepare for the year ahead, how will you define success for your teaching practice? How will you reflect, iterate and question assumptions for the betterment of your students and yourself? 

To find a longer excerpt of Becoming A Critically Reflective Teacher, click here.

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