• What do you deserve to feel as you head into work each day?
• What would make you feel more successful and joyful in your work?
Taking a Stand for Reflective Teaching
We believe that reflective teaching stems from a deep respect for the complexity
of teaching and learning. Reflective early childhood teachers are intentional and
thoughtful about their beliefs and practices, and they continuously review and
analyze their observations and experiences with young children. They use their
reflections in and out of the classroom to take actions that steadily improve their
professional teaching practice. Reflective early childhood teacher educators,
coaches, mentors, and administrators engage in a parallel process when they
study observations of children alongside teachers and give careful consideration
to teachers’ thinking and learning.
Reflective teaching is hardly a new concept. A century ago, progressive edu-
cator John Dewey (1910) wrote about the importance of reflection in the teach-
ing and learning process. For Dewey, reflection was a way for teachers to reorga-
nize their thinking, to look at all sides of a situation, and to avoid the impulse to
keep doing the same old things in the same old ways.
Like Dewey, we see reflection as a key component of responsive, deeply
child-centered teaching. Because each child and each teaching situation is
unique, effective teachers must continuously reflect on their reactions to every-
thing that happens in the classroom. No single set of strategies or techniques can
work for all teachers, with all children, or in all circumstances. Instead, teaching
requires a mind-set of constant, sensitive, skillful, and reflective decision making,
both in and out of the action of the classroom. Teachers need and deserve time
and guidance to support this process.
So what does it mean to be a reflective early childhood professional in
today’s world? The standards and accountability movement that swept over
the entire US educational system during the last decade has now taken solid
hold in the early childhood community. Program administrators feel pressure
to demonstrate accountability to rising standards by adopting teacher-proof
curricula. Teachers resort to one-size-fits-all teaching techniques in order to
comply with regulations and mandates. Quality Rating Improvement Systems
(QRIS) are adding more high-stakes assessment tools, but teachers are rarely
guided to use these tools as resources for self-reflection. The trend toward
more standardization without daily support systems for teachers directly
threatens reflective teaching practices. Even more, prescriptive, mechanical
teaching approaches start to drain the joy and passion from working with