The immediate reaction to a not so glowing reflection is one of self-preservation. As teachers we feel the need to defend or explain why we do the things that we do within the classroom, which is a natural and logical reaction. Much like any process the initial reaction falls way to self-doubt and criticism. The thoughts of "I should have handled this differently" or " I feel like I am not sure if I am indeed meeting the needs of my students or engaging my students" replace previous statements. The cycle finally completes itself when we get to the point of reflecting on the things we do well and possibly trying new things to get better at our own perceived inadequacies. What a glorious cycle of growth and learning it is we as teachers go through on a daily basis!
The excitement and eagerness to learn and grow that an practicum teacher brings to the classroom outweighs any possible fears the mentor teacher may have. In the last year I have been lucky enough to have 2 excellent student teachers work in the classroom alongside myself and my teaching partner. The student teacher reflections became an important learning tool for all parties involved. The reflections allowed for conversations starters, instructional and evaluation analysis and most of all an opportunity to deeply examine 'best practices'.
While the focus of education today shines a spotlight on meeting the needs of the learners within the classroom, it is important to remember that the first and fundamental learner in the classroom is the teacher themselves. This personal learning, in whatever form it takes, is an important piece of "High Impact Instruction". According to Jim Knight, "professional development has a unmistakable impact on teaching excellence and student learning". So as we head into the last few weeks of the school year, let us not forget our own learning and passion that brought us to the profession of teaching. I hope that every teacher takes a moment or two to find their own curiosity to learn something new and to be engaged in their own passions - rock climbing here I come!