How do you use reflection and self-evaluation to develop your skills as a professional educator?
The Japanese have a concept called “kaizen.” It means constant improvement. Kaizen means watching day-to-day activities and being ever alert for opportunities to refine the process, to improve the efficiency, to fix the glitches.
This process is very useful to teachers. All of us have opportunities to learn and improve all the time. Fine-tuning what works and what does not work in the classroom is a never-ending process. Reading new books and taking new classes to broaden understanding and skills is critical. Trying new things is a great way to add capability and effectiveness. However, it is unlikely that every experiment will be a successful one. In fact, it is almost certain that each experiment will need refinement before it becomes truly useful. Even after it does become a classroom standard, the same opportunities for improvement will apply. Finally yet importantly, the students are constantly changing. What works with a class one week, might not work as well a week later as they continue to develop and learn. In addition, of course, every year we start fresh with a new class of students and start afresh to understand them and tailor education to their needs, skills, and abilities.
Likewise, we are all vulnerable to our own conceits. It is all too easy to become complacent. It is too easy to believe that “our way is the best.” Reflection and self-evaluation are critical to expose areas where we may have become too comfortable or where we incorrectly take as a given the superiority of our approach. Constantly searching for areas of mistaken assumption is perhaps even more important to attaining full potential than the less challenging pursuit of constant improvement in areas of clear need.
Kaizen. (2010). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen