Becoming A Better Teacher: How Reflection Can Improve Instruction

Take a look at two teachers: Mrs. Smith and Mr. Wise. These teachers are both teaching the same two-part ELA lesson.  Let’s examine the following scenarios in each classroom and see how the lesson plays out…

Scenario 1

Mrs. Smith: Alright scholars, first, I would like you to review your character “webs” that you completed yesterday. In your reading journals, please draft a two-paragraph essay highlighting three characteristics of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web.

The students begin writing, and turn in their journals at the end of the day. Mrs. Smith begins reading the journals, and realizes that only a few students successfully completed the assignment. Some students even left their journals blank. Mrs. Smith begins to wonder…”Did I do something wrong?” “Why aren’t my students understanding?”.

Scenario 2

Before class, Mr. Wise sits down and reviews his students’ character webs they created yesterday for their Charlotte’s Web unit. He realizes that the students incorrectly completed their character webs, and some students even wrote question marks next to some sections. He reflects, and concludes that the character web needed to be revised. He creates a more clear and concise graphic organizer for students to write about each character.

Mr. Wise: Students, I noticed that some of you had difficulty in completing your character webs. I am passing out a new organizer for us to fill out together as a class.

The class completes the character graphic organizer.

Mr. Wise: Now, I’d like you to review your organizers and draft a two-paragraph essay highlighting three characteristics of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web in your reading journals.

Mr. Wise then collects the journals and sees that the students have successfully completed the assignment. He writes on his lesson plan that he needs to swap out the “character web” for the “graphic organizer” for his future classes.


In scenario 2, Mr. Wise learned through reflecting that his character web was not an effective tool and improved his teaching practice to become more confident.

Image result for quotes about reflection

“How do I reflect? When do I even have the time?” “I have standards to meet!”Image result for teacher going crazy meme

Reflecting on our own teaching can be a challenging task. Teachers tend to be highly critical of themselves while already feeling overwhelmed by standardized testing, state requirements, IEP’s, and lesson plans. However, there are simple ways to reflect on our teaching. By implementing a few of these reflective teaching techniques, we as teachers can become more confident in ourselves and improve our teaching. This will in turn eliminate a lot of future stress!

Upon doing more research, I came across a journal that provides more information on this topic.  Lydia Foong of University of Malaya and Andrea Nolan of Deakin University did a study addressing teachers’ reflective thinking.

“It has been argued that reflection skills are crucial for teacher development, and improvement of student learning” (Darling-Hammond, 2006; Korthagen, Loughran & Russell, 2006).

The study also mentions collective reflection, an interesting concept. Why not learn from our peers too?


For starters, here are a few simple reflective teaching examples to try:

  1. Ticket Out The Door:

Students can complete a ticket out the door responding to a simple question. The question can be, for example, “What did you enjoy?”, “What didn’t you understand?”. This way, the students are participants in their learning, and you as the teacher can inform and improve your own teaching practice. And–it takes less than five minutes!

2. Reflection Section

Allot a space in your lesson plans for reflection. After a lesson, simply jot down what you want to add or change based on how the lesson went.

3. Have a buddy observe 🙂

Have a colleague or mentor come and observe your classroom. Sometimes we need to receive constructive criticism from others and reflect on it for ourselves. We are not perfect-but we are growing and learning how to become better teachers for our students.



Reflection can be a powerful tool for educators. Becoming a reflective teacher will take time, and some reflective strategies work better than others. The bottom line is that if we take time to reflect, it benefits us as well as our students. Reflection can help us grow and build confidence in our teaching. Please feel free to leave comments so I can reflect on this post…see what I did there?


Thanks for reading!