Four Lenses: Self Lens

Self reflection is at the heart of reflective teaching practices and often involves an individual engagement with results, suggestions, comments and evidence obtained through the other lenses. Nevertheless, the resources available on this page are predominantly individual reflection exercises.

The Faculty's Critical Reflection Pro Forma, (also available as a word doc) (or a format of their own choosing) should be used by teachers each semester to document reflection on evidence of student learning, and any action taken in response, including reporting of results to students or colleagues.

Further exercises to help with your teaching portfolio, including exercises to draft and refine your teaching philosophy, and an exercise using a recording of a class or lecture, can be found below.

Teaching Portfolios

"Portfolios are history in the making [...] They are museums of our work and thinking - displaying our successes, experiments and dreams." (Martin-Kniep)

A teaching portfolio can be a substantial document or folder including your teaching philosophy, goals, aids, recordings, reflections, feedback and evaluations. Teaching portfolios are dynamic collections of teaching artefacts and commentaries that can be compiled or used for many different purposes. In any of their various forms, teaching portfolios can be powerful resources for teachers. For Antonek, McCormick and Donato, teaching portfolios promote "reflective, thoughtful practice" in the construction of teaching identities and help teachers "regulate their professional development". That is, teaching portfolios can be presented or interpreted as reflections of your professional teaching identity.

In the further reading section below, or through a simple internet search of "teaching portfolio", it is possible to find many "how-to" guides and examples of teaching portfolios. You should clearly define the purpose of your teaching portfolio when creating your first, or revisiting an old portfolio. The contents and design of a portfolio for personal reflection, for example, may be very different from a portfolio required for an award application or a job interview.

The two portfolio exercises below are designed as ways to practise self-reflection. They may be incorporated in your teaching portfolio as artefacts that document the process of reflection as well as any plans that result from your critical reflection. The exercises are designed both to help you identify and analyse your teaching goals and methods, and to create records of the strategies you develop to improve your teaching.

Teaching Philosophy

"a teaching philosophy statement provides the stability and direction during the storms of ambiguity most teachers face in their teaching careers." (Schonwetter et al, 86)

The statement of teaching philosophy has become a crucial document in academic CVs and teaching dossiers/portfolios. It is a 1-2 page document that presents a portrait of you as a teacher and displays answers to some common questions that may be asked of your teaching ideas/methods: what are your beliefs about teaching and learning? how are these beliefs manifest in the classroom or course design? what is the contextual basis and ramification for your teaching beliefs and practices? The statement of teaching philosophy has been described as a powerful document that engages teachers with scholarly literature about teaching as well as engaging teachers in conversations with their students and peers about teaching beliefs and methods.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the idea that teaching philosophies are dynamic documents; they are reflective, iterative, living documents. You may already have a statement of teaching philosophy (and may even have rewritten it from time to time). The following exercises are designed to help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your teaching philosophy and will help in the inevitable (re)writing of your statement of teaching philosophy.

A/V Recording

Many teachers today have access to audio (or lectopia or audio-visual) recordings of their tutorials, seminars, or lectures. Generally such recordings are used for students to catch up on missed classes or to review topics before assignments are due. For teachers, however, these recordings provide a valuable opportunity to reflect upon a class you have taught. The following exercise will involve 15 minutes of preparation, followed by note-taking while listening to your recording, and 15 minutes of reflection after listening to your recording.

Further Reading