AERA 2018 Annual Meeting: “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education”
April 13-17, 2018
Title: The Role of Reflection as a Vehicle for Teacher Change
Author: Cathery Yeh, PhD Alumna/Chapman University
Reflection has been identified in teacher education as a vehicle for professional growth and development. Reflective teaching, with its roots in the works of John Dewey (1933) has been identified as a process of self-examination and self-evaluation to regularly improve professional practice. Most existing studies focus on interventions that lead to changes in reflection and enactment of mathematics instruction (e.g., Author, 2014; Davis, 2006; van Es & Sherin, 2008). Little is known about the role of reflection in promoting self-sustained generative change in the context of teacher’s daily work. This study examines longitudinally the relation between reflection and teaching practices.
Data were drawn from a larger longitudinal study of teacher preparation that followed participants into their first two years of teaching. Two case studies were selected: Faith and Elise. Faith and Elise showed similar mathematics teaching practices at the end of teacher preparation, taught in similar contexts after graduation, and used the same curriculum. However, their mathematics teaching by the end of the second year of professional teaching looked quite different. This study asks the following questions: (1) How do Faith and Elise’s mathematics teaching practices and lesson reflections change over time? (2) What is the relationship between their teaching and their reflections, and how might their orientation toward inquiry shape their development over time?
Data sources included six videotaped mathematics lessons and accompanying reflections. Both were analyzed qualitatively through a framework that draws on research about ambitious instruction (Jackson & Cobb, 2010) and teacher reflective dispositions (Hiebert, et al., 2007). Analyses revealed that while both Faith and Elise’s teaching looked similar at the onset of their professional careers, there were some initial differences in their attention to students’ thinking in both teaching and lesson reflections. Elise’s mathematics teaching followed scripted lessons as instructed in the curriculum, and her lesson reflections were grounded in behavioral aspects of instruction – student behavior and completion of textbook assignments. In comparison, Faith attended to student thinking in her reflections on practice. She also enacted teaching practices that made space for student thinking and dialogue, although she did not fully build on this thinking until her second year of teaching. Her reflections were characterized by attention to evidence of students’ learning. Decisions for instructional change and next steps were grounded in her sense-making and reasoning about students’ mathematical ideas.
Study findings highlight the role of student-centered reflections for teaching improvement and support the integration of structured opportunities to develop inquiry-oriented dispositions and reflection skills during teacher preparation.