Reflective Practice in the Professional Development of Teachers of Adult English Language Learners
None, however, further resources and investigation will be needed to implement suggestions
This resource offers a brief introduction as to why practitioners engage in professional development and then goes on to describe how a teacher’s reflective practice provides data and understanding of one’s practice leading to informed decision making and professional growth. The author describes three types of reflective practice (action research, teaching journals, teacher development groups). The brief provides a practical and scientifically based orientation to reflective practice.
Summary of Program Improvement Review Comments:
Instructors use reflective practice and critical thinking to improve what they do. They begin with their practice and collect data; examine their attitudes, actions, beliefs, and assumptions; critically reflect; and act based on what they learned. This brief successfully shows that reflective practice goes beyond simply “thoughtful practice” to that of systematic reflection and action. While Farrell describes three staff development approaches to reflective practice, program managers would likely welcome practical examples of reflective practice as staff development. For example, the brief articulates reflective practice as an ‘anytime anywhere’ model of staff development, without acknowledging that it takes dedicated time and staff resources to implement.
Summary of ELA Review Comments:
This resource describes thoroughly the foundations and components of reflective practice and there are strong theoretical statements to support the thesis. This is a short paper but filled with ideas. It is easy for teachers to relate to and understand. Action research, teaching journals and teacher development groups are explained with concrete examples of how reflective practice plays out in a classroom.
It would be an ideal resource for professional development planners and teachers. Teachers could work together and identify issues and questions in their teaching setting and learn to articulate the research questions they want to explore. (This is the most challenging work in reflective teaching).
There is also an extensive list of references citing respected authors from the fields of teacher education, adult education, adult ESL, literacy, and second-language teaching.
Note: Farrell does not address time constraints or possible barriers to pursuing reflective practice. He makes a strong argument for the idea; he is clearly a believer. However, questions of implementing the process in light of realities of time and resources are not raised in the brief. His stated purpose is to “describe the theoretical basis … for reflective practice and suggest ways that teachers of adult ELL’s can incorporate reflective practice into their teaching.” But there are some missing pieces. There are always practical questions when professional development activities are more intense and time-consuming.