November 2014 – Volume 18, Number 3
Thomas S.C. Farrell
It is my pleasure to welcome you to this TESL-EJ Special Issue on Reflective Practice in Language Education. I would like to thank TESL-EJ for giving me the opportunity to act as editor for this special and also to thank the journal’s reviewers for all their help with the reviewing process for the many papers that were submitted. Ultimately we were only able to select three research papers and my own introduction paper. I hope you enjoy these papers and that they encourage you to reflect on your own practice.
In the opening paper Thomas Farrell reflects on his first encounters with reflective practice and reflection-in-action in particular that leads him to note that reflection is a combination of product and process the latter of which is often forgotten. The process of reflection he notes must also be accompanied by a set of three essential attitudes that must be cultivated to engage in reflective inquiry: open-mindedness, whole-heartedness, and responsibility.
Baburhan Uzum, Mary Petrón, and Helen Berg explored the professionalization of a group of 28 pre-service teachers who were involved in a service learning project at a local middle school in the U.S. where they designed and taught a content area lesson to English language learners (ELLs).They noted that reflective practice as a component of the process of providing sheltered instruction of English should serve as an instrumental part of preparing teachers to work in diverse educational contexts.
Timi Hyacinth and Steve Mann details reflective practice in Africa, a continent not usually reported on in studies on reflective practice. Their study was focused on establishing whether teachers in a Nigerian context saw themselves as reflective and could articulate ways in which reflection was important for them in their everyday practice and noted that the teachers may perceive reflection differently from their trainers. The article suggests that reflection can happen in an intuitive and self-determined way and these experiences (and associated texts) would make good data for making reflection in teaching more tangible for trainee and novice teachers.
Laura Baecher and Bede McCormack’s paper outlines how video-based supervision can offers a promising alternative to supervisors doing all the work involved in classroom observation as teachers themselves have an opportunity to examine their own lesson and thus engage with the supervisor in a more collaborative conference. Their paper explores the ways supervisors approach video in their conferencing with teachers as a vehicle for teacher reflective practice at one TESOL master’s program in the US by examining what supervisors find salient in video observations, how they approach teachers when reviewing a lesson using video as a means to ground observation in evidence, and the struggles they encounter when trying to foster teacher reflection.