Reflective Practice in Action

Using the 4 Lenses of Reflective Practice in Teaching

The goal of the critically reflective teacher is to gain increasing awareness about one’s own teaching and effectiveness from as many different viewpoints as possible. The continual and progressive search to improve their teaching and learning environments is a worthy professional practice of excellent instructors. In Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (1995), Stephen D. Brookfield introduces four lenses of reflective practice in teaching, which aide instructors in acquiring reflective focus on their teaching:

Autobiographical Lens

Teachers may focus on their experiences as teachers in order to reveal aspects of their pedagogies that may need adjustment or strengthening. Activities using this lens include:

  • Teaching portfolios
  • Philosophy of teaching and learning
  • A/V recordings
  • Teaching logs
  • Teaching learning audits
  • Role model profiles
  • Survival advice memos
  • Conference learning logs

Student Lens

Engaging with student views of the learning environment can lead to more responsive teaching. Evaluations, assessments, journals, focus groups and/or interviews can each provide cues to improve teaching and learning. Activities using this lens include:

  • Formal evaluations
  • Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID)
    • A Small Group Instructional Diagnosis is a focus group led by a trained facilitator who speaks directly with the students to ask what is working in the course and what they would like to see changed. This SGID process is confidential and non-evaluative, conducted by fellow faculty members who have received training in how to conduct the sessions.  SGID facilitators can act as neutral third parties who can collect anonymous feedback and report it back to you.  The SGID session takes about 30 minutes of class time.  Email to schedule a SGID for one or more of your classes.

  • Classroom assessment
  • Interviews
  • Letters to future students
  • Critical incident questionnaires

Peer Lens

Peers can highlight hidden habits in teaching practice and also provide innovative solutions to teaching problems. Further, colleagues can be inspirational and provide support and solidarity. Activities using this lens include:

Theoretical Lens

Teaching theory provides the vocabulary for teaching practice and offers teachers different ways to view and understand their teaching. Activities using this lens include: