Over a cuppa: prompts to reflect on learning and teaching- the 4th sip!

The 4th sip – Lenses for reflection

This is the 4th post in a regular feature Over a cuppa: prompts to reflect on learning and teaching to prompt you to reflect on your learning and teaching during the time it takes to make and drink a cuppa.

On my bookshelf is the foundational text Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (2nd edition) by Stephen D Brookfield, which shares a wealth of practical tools and examples. In a recent interview, Brookfield reflected on 50 (!) years of teaching in higher education:

I began my career feeling as if my responsibility was completely to decentre my own authority and almost remove myself from the classroom … and just let the students get on with it … I was very interested in self-directed learning for a while … As I got a little bit more experienced, I realised that, well, your body is always of significance in the class, you always do have some power, the question is: is that being exercised responsibly and supportively and authoritatively?

… I’m like everyone, I’m in a process of constant evolution.

You may be familiar with Brookfield’s four lenses: “students’ eyes, colleagues’ perceptions, theory, and personal experience” (2017, p. vii).

Inspired by a post from the Teche archives, here are ways of looking through these lenses:

  • the autobiographical lens: write a teaching philosophy, collate a portfolio, watch your lecture recordings or try blogging for reflective learning;
  • your students’ eyes: revisit evaluations, gather informal feedback in a minute paper;
  • your colleagues’ experiences: talk about teaching, join a community of practice, undertake peer review;
  • the theoretical lens: read literature, participate in professional development, sign up for the MOOC on Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching.

Future posts will share other models for reflective practice such as Hatton and Smith’s four levels of reflection, Gibbs’ reflective cycle, the 4R framework and more. We’ll travel deeper to explore Mary Ryan’s work on reflexivity and Marina Harvey’s ecology of reflection. As promised, the posts will include practical resources as well.

Brookfield, S. D. (2017). Becoming a critically reflective teacher 2nd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S. D., Rudolph, J. and Zhiwei, E. Y. (2019) The power of critical thinking in learning and teaching. An interview with Professor Stephen D. Brookfield. Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching, 2(2), 76-90.

Coming up next week:

The 5th sip – what’s in your reflection toolkit?

Catch up on previous posts in this series: