Tran Thi Hieu Thuy and Nguyen Thi Kim Phuong look at how to facilitate teachers' engagement in practising reflective activities.

Cornish and Jenkins (2012) argue that teachers who engage in regular critical reflection shape their own development and this self assessment is a key element in continual self improvement, and consequently, teacher quality. The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Framework by the British Council also highlights professional development as teachers' responsibilities to grow professionally. This fits in perfectly with Domains 4 and 5 of Vietnam's English Teacher Competency Framework (Dzuzik, 2008). However, reflective practice activities in reality, may it be carried out by many Vietnamese teachers frequently or not, appear to be questionable with regards to how deep the reflection is and how well it might inform their professional practices. When surveyed, a number of teachers attributed their surface reflection to a lack of formal training in professional development as well as a model for doing reflection (Tran, 2014). 

This secondary research reviews the concept of reflection and Brookfield’s theory of four lenses in critically reflective teaching practice as well as proposes guidelines for Vietnamese teachers to apply certain tools for reflection in each lens. While analysing each lens and reviewing their tools, the authors also map them to different elements of professional development as framed by the British Council CPD Framework. Brookfield emphasizes that for a teacher to be an excellent “critically reflective practitioner”, he/ she must be engaged in viewing teaching from four different lenses: (1) the autobiographical (Self-lens), (2) the students’ eyes (Student lens), (3) our colleagues’ perception and experiences (Peer lens), and (4) theoretical literature and/ or evidences of best practices (Literature lens). Keeping a teaching portfolio and constantly updating it is a good way for teachers to see themselves through self-lens, identify "areas for development" "to reach my specific career goals". Meanwhile, tools to view teaching and learning through student lens and peer lens engage teachers in taking well-informed decisions about their teaching practices and enhancing collaboration "with colleagues and other professionals". Finally, using tools for literature lens encourages teacher to read more, "do research and other forms of classroom inquiry", as well as "take part in training and observation activities" (British Council CPD). 
 
It is notable that an understanding of the model and tools can facilitate teachers' engagement in practising reflective activities; and thus, encourage them to work towards high quality teaching.
 
Key terms: critical reflection, reflective models, four lenses (self-lens, student lens, peer lens, literature lens), professional development, CPD
 
About the speakers: 
 
Ms Tran Thi Hieu Thuy holds an M.A. degree in TEFL. She is a teacher educator and teacher trainer of English language teaching methodology at University of Languages and International Studies – Vietnam National University. She is certified by the Educational Testing Service (USA) as its master trainer of Propell TOEIC Teacher Workshops. Her research interests include teacher education, integrated teaching and project-based learning. 
 
Ms Nguyen Thi Kim Phuong holds an M.Ed. degree and is a lecturer of BA Honor Programs, Faculty of English Language Teacher Education, University of Languages and International Studies – Vietnam National University. Her research interests include teacher education, professional development, and English teaching and learning. 

Watch a recording of this talk below

Before you watch, think about these questions:

  • When has a personal experience of learning challenged what you thought was good teaching or training practice?
  • When has student or trainee feedback challenged an assumption you held about how best to support learning?
  • When, and how, has a colleague helped you to think about your practice differently?
  • What is an insight or idea from research and theory that has helped you see your teaching or training activities in a different light or clarified an issue for you?

Watch the webinar recording:

After you watch activities
Tran Thi Hieu Thuy and Nguyen Thi Kim Phuong suggest practical ideas and tools for the reflective lenses.

  • Which tools could you use in your own self-development as a teacher educator? 
  • Which tools could you suggest for the teachers you work with?
  • How can you help teachers you work with to fully engage with and develop their reflective practice?

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