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Special interest column – Developing teachers

by Sandy Millin

Do you remember your first year of teaching after you qualified? How did you feel? For me, there was a lot to get my head around: a new country, a new language, new books, a new lifestyle and a whole new way of looking at my language. I’ve heard it said many times that if you can survive your first year of teaching, it gets a lot easier! So what can we do to help new teachers? And what can they do to help themselves?



One of the most important things all teachers can do is reflect on their lessons. What worked? What didn’t? How would you do it differently next time? With all the pressures of lesson planning, paperwork and actual teaching, it can be hard to find time to stand back and think about your lessons, especially for new teachers. Often we only really do this when we are being observed, but it should be an ongoing process.



Perhaps the simplest reflective structure is one based on six questions:

Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

These words can then be expanded into complete questions appropriate for each individual lesson, as well as being built on for future lessons. The teacher can choose whether to think about all six questions for a lesson, or to focus on just one. For example ‘Who?’ could become:

‘Where?’ could be:


When? Where? Who with?

Here are a few suggestions to help make reflection a part of the everyday practice of newly-qualified teachers:

The most important thing to emphasize to new teachers is that time spent reflecting and sharing experiences is not time wasted. Instead, it can make teaching a less stressful and more enjoyable process.

Further Reading

Dale Coulter (IH Rome) has written an in-depth guide to reflective practice for newly-qualified teachers, including advice about journal writing, action research and getting subjective feedback.

http://bit.ly/DaleCoulterReflectiveTeaching (case sensitive)

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