As I’ve mentioned before, my larger scale unit of planning is the semester, and I’ve discussed how I make my semester plan for Fall and Spring. At the end of each semester, before making the plan, I also conduct an end of semester review, looking at what went well and what didn’t, and what I want to focus on or change in the following semester. I’ll share my Summer plan at the end of this post (yes, I plan summers too!), but before that I thought I’d discuss how I do my end of semester review.
As is probably clear to readers of this blog, I think reflection is a crucial skill for learning and teaching. I’ve discussed making time and space for reflection as a language teacher, and ethnographic projects as a way to encourage reflection during study abroad. In this post, I’ll discuss reflecting with students, another valuable practice.
In my very first post, I noted the importance of reflection for intercultural learning during study abroad—that is, it’s not enough to simply have intercultural contact, but it’s also necessary to reflect upon this contact. This is also true for teaching—it’s not enough to receive training, and design curricula, and implement lessons, we also need to reflect upon our practices in order to learn from them. Yet oddly enough, it is this step that is rarely built into our jobs as language teachers—we attend conferences and professional development, we make curricula, we design lessons, we teach classes, we grade, and all of these have specific times and places assigned to them. Sure, we can get behind on grading, but we’ll still finish it by the end of the term, and we’re unlikely to show up to class without some sort of plan (hopefully). Yet despite the importance of reflecting upon what we do and how we teach, there’s rarely scheduled time or space for this, and even when we recognize its importance, it’s the first thing to go in the crunch of grading and prepping (at least in my experience). So, in honor of the end of the semester, I thought I’d share some ways that I’ve built reflective practice into my own language teaching (and our Arabic section as a whole).