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January 06, 2010

The Reflective Teacher: A Taxonomy of Reflection (Part III)

Reflection Reflection can be a challenging endeavor. It's not something that's fostered in school - typically someone else tells you how you're doing! Teachers are often so caught up in the meeting the demands of the day, that they rarely have the luxury to muse on how things went. Moreover, teaching can be an isolating profession - one that dictates "custodial" time with students over "collaborative" time with peers. In an effort to help schools become more reflective learning environments, I've developed this "Taxonomy of Reflection" - modeled on Bloom's approach.  It's posted in four installments:
1.  A Taxonomy of  Reflection
2. The Reflective Student 
3. The Reflective Teacher 
The Reflective Principal

 See my Prezi Tour of the Taxonomy

It's very much a work in progress, and I invite your comments and suggestions. I'm especially interested in whether you think the parallel construction to Bloom holds up through each of the three examples - student, teacher, and principal. I think we have something to learn from each perspective.

3. The Reflective Teacher

Each level of reflection is structured to parallel Bloom's taxonomy. (See installment 1 for more on the model). Assume that a teacher looked back on an lesson (or project, unit, course, etc) they have just taught. What sample questions might they ask themselves as they move from lower to higher order reflection? (Note: I'm not suggesting that all questions are asked after lesson - feel free to pick a few that work for you.)

Bloom's Remembering: What did I do?
Teacher Reflection: What was the lesson? Did it address all the content? Was it completed on time? How did students "score" on the assessment?

Bloom's Understanding: What was important about what I did? Did I meet my goals?
Teacher Reflection: Can I explain the major components of the lesson?  Do I understand how they connect with the previous / next unit of study? Where does this unit fit into the curriculum? What instructional strategies were used? Did I follow best practices and address the standards?

Bloom's Application: When did I do this before? Where could I use this again?
Teacher Reflection: Did I build on content, product or process from previous lessons? How does this lesson scaffold the learning for the next lesson? How could I adapt the instructional approach to another lesson? How could this lesson be modified for different learners?

Bloom's Analysis: Do I see any patterns or relationships in what I did?
Teacher Reflection: What background knowledge and skills did I assume students were bringing to the lesson? Were the instructional strategies I used the right ones for this assignment? Do I see any patterns in how I approached the lesson - such as pacing, grouping? Do I see patterns in my teaching style - for example do I comment after every student reply? What were the results of the approach I used - was it effective, or could I have eliminated or reorganized steps?

Bloom's Evaluation: How well did I do? What worked? What do I need to improve?
Teacher Reflection: What are we learning and is it important? Were my assumptions about student background knowledge and skills accurate? Were any elements of the lesson more effective than other elements? Did some aspects need improvement? Were the needs of all learners met? What levels of mastery did students reach?  What have I learned about my strengths and my areas in need of improvement?  How am I progressing as a teacher?

Bloom's Creation: What should I do next? What's my plan / design? 
Teacher Reflection: How would I incorporate the best aspects of this lesson in the future? What changes would I make to correct areas in need of improvement? How can I best use my strengths to improve? What steps should I take or resources should I use to meet my challenges? Is there training or networking that would help me to meet my professional goals? What suggestions do I have for our leadership or my peers to improve our learning environment? 


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I see this Taxonomy of Reflection and associated questions as being an invaluable tool for instructional coaches when conferencing and working with teachers. I am currently writing my dissertation in which teacher reflections are the bulk of the data. I wish I would have had this a year ago. ;) Looking forward to reading more of your work.

I've been simmering the model on my brain's back burner for awhile. Sorry I didn't get it out sooner. Best of luck in your work.

I think this model is crucial for us. Rubrics are useful up to a point but don't stimulate students to think about the big picture. I have shared your graphic and sent people from my blog to yours. This set of articles should be required reading for all teachers and principals.

Lydia, Glad you found the model applicable to your work. … And perhaps a respite from rubrics.

This is of great help. I face 150 freshman on thursday. I was working up a talk using prezi and found yours, then I found this. I'm feeling like I might be able to really help them as they take on life at an R1 university. Thanks.


Thanks for taking the time to post. I'm pleased to hear about the many ways the taxonomy is used. Best of luck facing the 150!

I really like the integration of Blooms taxonomy into the levels of reflective practice, it clearly shows how the ability to reflect is a hierarchical process that requires understanding of the challenges at each level. I also think reflection is generally not valued enough in our profession.

Thanks Gareth,
My approach to professional practice begins with the question "does this model what we would like to see students doing in the classroom?" If we want students to be reflective learners - teachers and administrators must reflect on their practice as well.

What resources did you use to formulate your taxonomy/vision of reflection? I'm doing a project for a class on diffentiating supervision, and your model is exactly what I've been looking for in my research.

Hi Christina,
Of course Bloom's taxonomy is the foundation. The rest came from my experience in the classroom - both as teacher and teacher trainer. Feel free to cite in your project - but I don't have any documented research to back my model.

best of luck

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