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
  • Classroom assessment
  • Student focus groups
  • 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:

  • Peer observation / peer coaching
  • Faculty learning circles
  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Structured critical conversations

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:

  • Scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Conferences / workshops
  • Professional journals
  • Action research