The Role of Critical Reflection in Teacher Education.
Published on Jan 1, 2010
The majority of the teacher candidates in my methods classes come from a background that is different from the primarily African American students at my professional development school. Because these teacher candidates continue to be predominantly White middle-class females, the gap between their cultural comfort zone and their students’ cultural backgrounds is likely to continue. As such, I studied the body of research that supports the critical impact that the role of reflection has on a teacher’s knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and I decided to use critical reflection as a major component in supporting teacher candidates’ growth and success at this professional development school. This resulted in the teacher candidates’ deep understanding of their teaching styles, which enhanced their ability to challenge the traditional mode of practice and define their growth toward greater effectiveness as teachers. More important, their ability to relate to their elementary students improved significantly. 102 HIBAJENE M. SHANDOMO in connecting new learning with prior experience, posing appropriate questions, and exploring their thinking. Writing about their experiences in classroom teaching gives them means to remember, recall, reconstruct, re-create, and represent what they learn of their teaching practice under supervision. In this course, teacher candidates write a self-reflection for each lesson they develop and teach. This work is based on the constructivist theory, which emphasizes the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves. Each learner individually (and socially) constructs meaning as he or she learns. Constructing meaning is learning; there is no other kind. Reflective journal writing allows teacher candidates to construct their own understanding of the critical nature of the classroom environment, which is instrumental in providing a context for children’s learning. It also helps them realize they must be knowledgeable about the intellectual, emotional, physical, and moral development of their student learners. Near the conclusion of the course, teacher candidates conduct a summative reflection to develop individual professional growth plans, which requires them to review their lesson plan reflections and weekly journal reflections, in addition to the written and verbal feedback provided by their cooperating teachers and college instructors on classroom teaching, course projects, and assigned readings. Teacher candidates then develop a set of authentic goals for professional improvement to focus on during their student-teaching experience for the following semester. One major outcome of the summative reflection is an understanding of the critical role that reflection can play in continuous professional development. Why Use Critical Reflection in the Preparation of Urban