Guided Reflective Practice: First Results

When I first had the idea of creating an on-line course, I did not quite know what I wanted it to be, but I had a very clear picture of what I did not want it to become. I did not, under any circumstances, want it to end up being another one of those impersonal on-line ‘watch lengthy videos by someone who knows better’ courses which take a lot of time and leave you having spent all of that time on your own, with your ideas brewing, but little or no support or external validation on the part of that very someone-who-knows-better. I knew I wanted it to be interactive, and I wanted most of the input to follow, and not precede the output. In other words, I wanted to build the course where most of the input by the tutor would come in response to what the course participants produced, thus allowing them, in many ways, to lead the course and take it where they need it to go.

This is how the idea of Dear Diary came to be. And this is why:

  • Post-lesson reflection, self-evaluation, and continuous student assessment are essential components of effective teaching.
  • Reflection, though seemingly easy, requires a lot of self-discipline, focus, and, in the case of many of us who are not used to such practice, guidance.
  • A lot of teachers, both novice and experienced, find that they are not getting enough support from their senior staff members, and are often at a loss when it comes to making decisions about their teaching – it is easy to lose track and start doubting your own methods when you have been left to work on your own for months, if not years.
  • Not everyone is ready to discuss their doubts and problems with their colleagues and/or even senior staff members. Depending on the teaching context, cultural background, and many other factors, one may not want to lose their face, come across as insecure, vulnerable, or unprofessional; a lot of us simply do not like to be judged.
  • It is often much easier (and, for that matter, also more effective) to put things on paper and to get feedback from an almost complete stranger – someone who is not going to judge, who has no impact on your public image or your career – a talking diary 😊
  • I have met a lot of fantastic, capable, and extremely professional non-native teachers who feel extremely self-conscious about their English – several people I know would not move forward with their careers and join higher scale professional development courses, such as the IH CAM course, or the DELTA because they feel that their productive skills, and especially their writing, are not good enough…

As a result, I have created a course which, apart from the six short input videos, is almost 100% tutor’s response to the trainees’ writing. In a safe and anonymous environment, course participants are given an opportunity to spend six weeks writing a journal and getting the tutor’s undivided attention and personal feedback on a weekly basis. I have also added a Focus on Writing option for those interested in improving their written language, and it seems to have become quite popular with non-native trainees from all over the world.

Results so far

I must say that the results of the course so far have superseded my expectations: not only did I manage to create a very special bond with each and every participant of my pilot course, not only did I myself enjoy reading and learning from the wise and dedicated teachers, but also all of the participants showed progress, becoming more reflective, more aware of their own teaching and their learners’ needs and development, and willing and ready to experiment and try out new ideas, methods, and techniques in their lessons. Can a trainer wish for anything more than that?

All in all, I must say that I am now convinced that Dear Diary was worth the time and the effort, and I hope that more teachers from all over the world will join me on this exciting journey and contribute to building a more aware, flexible, and, thus, effective, teaching community worldwide.

Hope to read you soon and, in the meantime, have a look at the kind of discussions that we have been having…

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Learn more about the course and sign up here.

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