Remote Teaching and Learning: What Is the Reflection Connection?

By Claudia Coleman

student attending class through a video call on a computer

Teachers and students are preparing for an uncertain fall. Learning will occur, but it is not certain how it will look. For many, the upcoming school year will include some components of remote learning. This is instruction that takes place while teachers and learners are in separate locations, typically inside their respective homes. To effectively teach remotely, teachers can apply some of the same best practice components used in traditional instruction. One of these best practices is using regular reflection to improve teaching and learning.

Using Reflection for Improved Learning

Teachers must ask students to reflect on their learning to process the information they have learned throughout the lesson. Many teachers use reflection in this way to improve their teaching. One strategy for more in-depth reflective thinking is the use of self-questioning. Common inquiries include:

  • What went well?
  • What would you change in your lesson?
  • Did you incorporate the lesson’s application to the students’ lives and communities?

As the new school year approaches, classroom teachers traditionally begin planning, thinking about what has gone well in the past and what changes they want to make this new school year. However, this year, the thoughts of teachers may be centered on teaching remotely: how to reach every child in this new normal while ensuring that each child is successful. An in-depth reflective process may help prepare teachers for this new normal.

Steps for Reflection

The following three steps can help you reflect one your teaching by using self-questioning. The more information you have, the better your outlook will be.

  1. Think about either your best lesson or a lesson that did not go as planned.
    • What was the lesson?
    • What was so great about this particular lesson?
    • What occurred that you didn’t plan on, whether before, during or after the lesson?
  2. Describe the setting in as much detail as possible.
    • Where did the lesson take place?
    • Was it a public, charter, parochial or homeschool setting?
    • Do you teach in a high, medium or low socio-economic area?
    • When in the year did the lesson take place?
    • What was happening in the classroom, school and community?
  3. Describe all shareholders. You should go deeper than just describing your students, also recalling school faculty, families and the community.
    • How would you describe the students that were present?
    • Which students stood out and why?
    • What would you say about the students that didn't stand out?
    • What type of day were you having and why?
    • Was anything going on in the community that stands out?
    • Were any of your students or their families experiencing anything out of the norm that may have impacted the students’ learning and engagement?

As you complete the steps to this in-depth reflective process, the hope is that you will encounter a deeper understanding of your teaching. Teaching a lesson, whether it lasts 15 or 90 minutes, comes with multiple variables that impact how each student learns. As you prepare to teach your students this fall, be it in person, remote or utilizing a form of blended learning, use this reflective process to help you meet your students' needs. It’s not about how educators can make their students successful, but what they need from their teacher to succeed.

Want more? Check out all of the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. To learn more about the College of Education and our degree programs, visit our website and join in our efforts to elevate the education profession.

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