Critical Reflection on Practice

“Recognizing the discrepancy between what is and what should be is often the beginning of the critical journey

S. Brookfield (1995)

Each of us, as a teacher, has his or her own beliefs as to what makes “great instruction”. For most of us, this is heavily influenced by our own experiences as learners, whether they were positive which we then seek to emulate for our students or negative, which we then strive to avoid reiterating for others.

The purpose of this project is to improve the quality of mathematics teaching across the UK by challenging your perceptions as to what makes “great instruction.” This be nature will be a reflective exercise where we will all confront the possibility that the assumptions on which we base our teaching may not be the most conducive for learning in our classrooms. Recognising the discrepancy between what is and what should be is often the beginning of a critical journey towards more effective teaching (Brookfield, 1995).

Patchwork Texts

Assessment is generally through a 4000-5000 word essay based on one of these assessment modes. We realise that most teachers are very busy and might find the thought of a 4000-word essay rather daunting, so we intend to make use of what is known as “patchwork texts”.

A patchwork text is a form of assessment that consists of a number of small sections of work, or ‘patches’, which are later ‘stitched’ together in a reflexive commentary. Each of the patches is complete in and of itself; however they also each form a small part of an overarching whole. A ‘patchwork text’ assignment is therefore one that is assembled gradually throughout the course of a module. The patches are designed to be as varied as possible and are likely to address different module objectives.

If you are working within a group, during the module each of the patches is shared within the group, and with the facilitating member of staff. This is in order to receive formative feedback and evaluation. You are encouraged to reflect on this feedback and may then revise and edit your patches if you so wish. At the end of the module, you embed the patches within a reflexive commentary, weaving these together into an overarching whole.

Getting Started

In this section we will be examining our practice through four different lenses. They are:

  1. our autobiographies as teachers and learners
  2. our students’ eyes
  3. our colleagues experiences
  4. theoretical literature

By looking through all four lenses (Patches 1 to 4) you will become aware of any distorted or incomplete aspects of your personal assumptions as to what makes “great instruction.” But first you need to understand what it means to be a “critically reflective teacher.” This is covered in Patch 1.

In Patch 5 we begin to look at alternative ways of teaching mathematics and in particular the Japanese approach to teaching through problem solving.

In Patch 6, you actually get to do some maths for yourself!

In Patch 7, you try out a new approach in your own classroom.

In Patch 8, you summarise your findings.

Structure of this Assessment Mode

Patch 1 – The critically reflective teacher

Patch 2 – My autobiography as a teacher and learner

Patch 3 – Looking through my students’ eyes (under development)

Patch 4 – Talking to my colleagues (under development)

Patch 5 – Looking at the literature

Patch 6 – Fluency, Flexibility and Originality

Patch 7 – Trying it out (under development)

Patch 8 – Summarising your findings (under development)

Essential pre-course reading

Brookfield’s Four Lenses: Becoming a Reflective Teacher – click here

IMP guidelines on this assessment mode click here