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Refining the Art of Teaching

Refining is the process of purification.  Natural resources are refined when they are almost in a usable state in order to make them more valuable.

I think teachers ought to engage in a refining process as well.  A process of purification.  A process of becoming more valuable.

I’ve heard all of the reasons why we don’t; however, I’ve come to realize reflective practice boils down to you either believe in it and make time for it or you don’t.  It’s just like anything else in life:  we make time for the things we believe are important.

I believe reflective practice is what sets apart the great teachers.  A quote hangs in my office saying, “The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is successful people fail more.”  It is in the process of taking risks and trying new ideas then considering how well these ideas worked which allow us to grow as teachers.

When I consider refining as a process of purification, I realize much of the time I spend in reflective practice is asking myself whether the experiences my students encounter are meaningful.  Are they authentic?  I hold tightly to a small number of core beliefs about teaching and I’m constantly asking myself whether my instruction holds true.

I catch myself getting caught up in the “game of school.”  I find myself doing things in my classroom because of the ease and simplicity of it.  Without intentionally engaging in reflective practice, I could easily be caught up in teaching to raise test scores instead of raising readers and writers.

As a reader of this blog, I think it is safe to assume you engage in reflective practice on a regular basis.  Would you mind sharing why you do so and how you find the time?  I’ll look forward to reading your comments.  Thanks in advance for sharing your thinking.



Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

8 thoughts on “Refining the Art of Teaching Leave a comment

  1. I think this is an area where I need to grow…I could begin by posting at least once a week reflecting on the week and what we did and how it matched up with what I value.

    I also need to challenge myself and talk more with my co-workers and reflect with them about lessons…


  2. Why do I reflect on my teaching? I can’t sleep at night knowing I haven’t done my best at my job. I have 21 lives that depend on my every day. If I wanted an easy job, I’d do something else.


  3. I reflect with other teachers. Setting aside time to talk about “our kids” instead of “my kids” makes this journey one of collaboration instead of isolation.
    I blog too, for my own reflection, but that was already mentioned above. ( I think reading blogs and responding is another form of reflection/collaboration. It connects us and supports us as we move forward.


  4. I am a brand new teacher who has just completed university this year. I have been doing some substitute teaching and I decided to start a blog. I plan to use it as a place where I can record my reflections and growth as a teacher. I love your blog!!


  5. We are fortunate in our district to have thoughtful and engaging professional development. I find I have to carve out time to reflect on my practice, student learning, and new understandings from this professional development. Finding time to synthesize all of this and have conversations with others takes reflection to the next level.


  6. I write about teaching (as many of us do). I speak about teaching to different groups. Last week I was invited to speak to graduate students in education and I discovered, once again, the challenge and discovery of speaking from that place where theory meets practice. When I read professionally, I find that I am in silent conversation about my classroom practice as I read. I listen to my students and often write down scraps of what I hear; I end up with a composite picture that never fails to inform me. And last (but not least), I pray about my teaching… that my work might be blessed and be a blessing to others, and that my eyes my be open to the wonders before me. I include this piece here only because I know it is a key part of my work to respect every student. This may be way more than you wanted, but I agree that it is important for reflective teachers to have the conversation. Thanks for initiating it.


  7. I reflect by writing in my notebook. I find that when I take the time to think about what I like and didn’t like about a lesson or unit and what worked and didn’t work, I am able to make my teaching better. I am lucky because I teacher a ten week course, so I have four chances each year to make it even better and every quarter I make changes!!


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