When teachers collaborate, they do so with the goal of investigating additional ways to support their students' literacy development. It is even more helpful and beneficial to collaboration if each teacher brings information about their classroom success and needs to the dialogue once they've experimented with reflective learning logs. Teachers can use such journals to document students' progress, explore questions and issues related to meeting students' academic needs, evaluate what works with their students, and plan for further instruction and assessment. These reflective writings provide a rich foundation for effective collaboration to take place.
Reflective Learning Logs
Teachers add to their professional growth by observing and reflecting on what goes on in their classrooms, and can then share their insights with other teachers through the process of collaboration. This acquired knowledge enables teachers to be more informed and to incorporate working theories that potentially match the instructional needs of their ELLs. Typically, reflective writing is an ongoing process whereby teachers rethink what happened in class, what worked and didn't work to meet their instructional goals, and how their teaching behaviors can change or improve.
Reflective Writing Techniques Promote Successful Collaboration
Reflective writing journals help enhance the process of collaboration by providing unique perspectives for ESL and ELL teachers as they endeavor to close the gaps in their students' reading proficiency levels in both smaller and larger general educational settings.
As teachers document student performance and related factors, they then have information to further reflect and plan how to meet student needs. Reflective learning may take an inquiry-based format, in which teachers ask themselves questions and then seek answers through collaboration with other teachers or experimenting with various instructional strategies and methods. The process of journal writing is not intended for quick and easy solutions, but rather to explore a reflective process of thinking. Reflective writing also allows teachers to make connections between issues they observe in the classroom and what they have learned through various professional development opportunities, such as in-service sessions.
All teachers can start using reflective learning logs in order to ask questions and isolate the issues facing their struggling readers. Once ELL teachers know how the issues influence their instruction, they can then begin the process of adapting the curriculum to meet the needs of ELLs.
Reflective Journals Helps Teachers Learn what Works
As teachers use their reflective writing to pinpoint areas of success in their day-to-day teaching, they can then use the reflective learning process as they plan and develop subsequent instruction to help their students close the gaps in reading proficiency. Important areas such as planning and development slowly became clearer for us when we presented ourselves with questions that were specific and geared to a certain content or practical area which needed additional clarification.
Teachers need to reevaluate their instruction and assessment and spend some time after lessons thinking more deeper about how to adapt the curriculum to carefully suit the needs of their struggling ELLs. Using specific subjects to help guide them in their thinking, teachers can more effectively evaluate the quality of their teaching and assessment. As the center of the inquiry process, reflective learning works similarly to an action research concept. Using Wallace's practice model of professional education/development, reflective teaching "can have a specific and immediate outcome which can be directly related to practice in the teacher's own context" (bibliographic information: Wallace, M. 1991. Training Foreign Language Teachers: A reflective approach. Cambridge University Press.)
In this respect, all teachers can benefit using reflective learning logs in order to begin to ask questions and focus on the issues facing their struggling readers. Once ELL teachers know how these issues influence their instruction, they can then begin the process of adapting the curriculum to meet the needs of ELLs.
Teachers can ask themselves questions about key areas such as specific aspects of lesson planning which will result in effective teaching, classroom management, and assessment, and use their reflective learning logs as a foundation for identifying instructional objectives and establishing goals.
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