Engage in some reflective practice

How much do you think about your teaching?

Do you reflect on how you could improve your teaching? Do you take for granted that your teaching is OK? Do you discuss your teaching with others?

As you teach more and more your skills will improve however it is contended that it is useful for all teachers and coaches to engage in some degree of reflection. This reflection may heighten a sense of self-awareness, leading to a“certain openness to new ideas” and helping to improve your skills as a teacher.

Before an individual can properly engage in reflective practice, three personal attributes need to be present [Dewey 1916].

Open mindedness

  • An active desire to listen to more sides than one
  • To give full attention to alternative possibilities
  • To recognise the possibility of error, even in beliefs dearest to us

Whole heartedness

  • Having a passion – being thoroughly interested in the subject


  • Taking responsibility for the consequences of actions and accepting them. “Knowing that you are part of the problem means that you can also be part of the solution” – Wayne Smith, All Blacks rugby coach.

Type of questions

The type of questions the teacher asks themselves changes as experience is gained. Three levels of reflection have been identified [Ian Mauen 1977].

Technical level of reflection

  • What resources could I use to improve when teaching this task?
  • Did I achieve the goals I set myself for this session?
  • How could I fix this problem?
  • What could I change to ensure the practice starts/finishes on time?
  • Why don’t ringers want to engage with this activity – what is wrong with them?
  • Could I structure this activity better?

Practical level of reflection

This occurs when the teacher is approachable and flexible and when the teacher has developed an understanding of the effect of their own actions on other’s learning.

  • What is it about the way I have structured this practice session which does not appear to suit the ringers?
  • What other ways could I use to get my message across?
  • How does my own behaviour reinforce stereotypes?
  • What messages are portrayed by my posture and my appearance?

Critical level of reflection

This occurs when a teacher starts to see problems in context:

  • Why do I find some teaching practices ineffective, unfair or unethical despite the fact that they are accepted tradition?
  • Why is there a difference between the type of feedback I give to a more skilled ringer and a less skilled ringer?
  • Whose knowledge am I applying as I teach?

Many teachers already ask themselves these types of searching questions. It is often useful to use like-minded ringing teachers to interact with for this type of reflective practice. However, sometimes a teacher is in a situation where they are unable to collaborate with others. In this situation the like-minded group might be friends or other ringers. Discussion with like-minded people can generate insight and provide an alternative perspective on the situation. So if you do not think much about your teaching why not start discussing teaching with others, you may find it helps your teaching skills to improve.


Teacher's Guide to Learning the Ropes

A book for any ringing teacher, covering the “how to” from the first bell handling lesson to teaching someone how to ring their first method.

The Teacher's Guide and its companion publication The Ringer's Guide to Learning the Ropes are both available from the ART shop.

Pip Penney