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Apr 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 2

ISSN 1755-9715

Reflective Teaching: An Indispensable Tool for Effective Teachers

Fatmah A Ali is the Vice-President & Program Director for ELTAD/MA in TESOL-ELT programs offered by Master English Education & Training, GCC [an ASIC UK-accredited institution]. Ms. Ali works as an accreditation consultant for ASIC UK and was awarded twice by the MENA awards in 2015 & 2016 as the Best Business Leader and is currently the Jeddah Chapter Rep for KSAALT.Her core expertise is in curriculum development and provides exclusive consultation to prospective school/institute/college owners. Email:









Educators emphasize on several teaching tools, approaches, concepts and strategies to create an effective learning environment. But, true educators focus on the tool they own: Reflection. That is how we are now able to understand ourselves and showcase our passion in the development and learning goals of our students. In my 18+ years of education and over a decade of teacher training in the Middle East, I was unconsciously practicing reflective teaching as my aim was to improve my teaching practice and document evident improvement in my students. After two years of teaching my EFL learners, I took my Trinity Cert TESOL certification that added terms related to teaching to my teaching practice. Consciously knowing now what I was doing, I was getting even better results! I wouldn’t mind working long hours- I had to meet my goals with my learners. My personal satisfaction was more important. This eventually improved my assessment ratings at work too! This also led me to several professional development courses, events and offered opportunities! My next step was Trinity Dip TESOL followed by my Master’s degree. Now, working through my PhD in Education Leadership & Management, I know I am not too far to achieve my dream!

So, what were my tools initially? I started with my own teaching and learning journal. Student feedback, new activities that I experimented with my students, new teaching strategies that I learnt from peer observations and comments from my supervisors. This gave me a sense of direction. I am a fan of fancy diaries (even today). My biggest indicators were my own experiences, feelings and self-reflection of my own teaching practice. An educator starting their own career in teaching “must” consider this as this leads into reflecting on not only understanding our own learners but ourselves as well. I could relate to what led to my “burn-out” state and what I could do to make myself better when I pass this phase. It also served as an excellent reminder- as to why I chose to be an educator and what I need to do be a better form of myself. This further led me to leadership opportunities and trainings and I found a very basic tool for reflection from my leadership trainings: SWOT Analysis.

Training teachers and educators for over a decade now, I asked all my trainees to do SWOT analysis to know where they stand today, working on their weaknesses, grabbing the opportunities through their strengths and also make them aware of the consequences (in case of threats). Out of an average 20 trainees, most didn’t know what their strengths were. Their list of weaknesses would be long but their strengths would hardly have anything. I asked them to think hard and see what they are very good at. Since doing this activity with them, out of these 20 trainees, at least 13-14 of them would proceed for CPD courses to improve their profile and teaching practice! I was glad the professional development was finally given its due importance and the credit goes to self-reflection!

SWOT is a basic self-analysis tool used by corporate companies to work efficiently and set goals. SWOT (Strengths-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats) is a quadrant chart that the educator can use to acknowledge the best they have and focus on the aspect they have to work on to progress in their field. Acknowledging the strengths makes one realize and discover their hidden potential. This is equally important for an educator to keep themselves motivated and works miracles with the self-esteem. This, in turn, leads to opportunities. Strengths direct the educator where and what they are to do with them. Weaknesses and Threats work together. Working on weaknesses can turn them into strengths. If they are not worked on, they turn into threats.

The journal entry led me to SWOT Analysis. There are many self-analysis tools available online and offline. As an educator, I realize we do not have time. These two basic tools will help any teacher jump start on effective self-reflection. So, what are we waiting for? J

Happy self-reflecting!


Please check the How to be a Teacher Trainer course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Leadership Skills for Teachers course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Wellbeing for Teachers course at Pilgrims website.

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