The Wetfoot Blog

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Post-Lesson Reflection

In my previous post, I shared some ideas for teaching skills in a camp setting. To review briefly, remember to teach a skill in the context it will be used as much as possible. (Example: practice paddling in the water.) Avoid lecturing except when necessary to convey rules, commands, etc. And most importantly, learn to teach a skill three different ways. For example, learn to teach a forward stroke by describing it verbally, modeling the stroke yourself, and asking campers to practice while you correct any errors. Once the successful lesson is over, take a short time to reflect on the lesson you just taught, which is the topic I’d like to discuss in this, the latest installment of “Matt writing stuff for the blogs.”

Reflecting on a lesson shows that you care enough about campers and your own teaching to make it better. If you are not a naturally reflective person, that is okay. Reflection is a skill: you can learn the skills of reflection and put them to use. This is a good time to point out that in order to do this well, you have to leave your ego at the door. It can be hard to admit that you could have done something better when you were teaching archery or leading your camping trip, but the people who can admit mistakes are taking the first step to becoming better. This is also a really good time to point out that if you find yourself saying that you never do anything wrong, or that you led a perfect camping trip, you are probably lying. Take a step back from the crafts activity you just taught or the canoe trip you led, and be honest with yourself. It’s more than okay to admit mistakes: it’s really really important to admit them so that you can get better.

Here are just a few reflection questions you can use to start thinking about your lesson:

1. How well did the group learn what you wanted them to learn?
2. Were there participants that seemed disengaged or bored?
3. What did you learn about the learning styles of your participants? Can you identify your participant’s learning styles?
4. What changes might you make in regards to:
  • Planning your lesson
  • Teaching the lesson
  • Group Management during the activity
5. Come up with two ways you could try to engage the participants who were not very involved in your lesson.

There are many more ways to reflect on and improve a lesson, but these questions provide a good start. Whatever way you choose to go about reflecting, it does not need to take very long. If you are working in a program area, you only have five to zero minutes between groups. Between groups, however, you can think about one thing you’d like to do better with the next group. When you are leading a camping trip, you can think about your leadership abilities during your paddle or hike. And of course, stealing a few minutes alone by the fire at night or the coffee pot in the morning is a great way to think about how things are going.

And again, be honest with yourself about how your activities are going. If you can’t figure out how to deal with a certain camper or situation, ask for help. Talk with another staff member who seems to be doing a good job teaching their campers. The point of a good reflection is to figure out how you can teach better. If you notice improvement in your teaching, you are probably doing a good job reflecting on and adjusting your teaching.

Until we blog again,
Matt Leibfried

Matt Leibfried is a teacher and Trip Leader at Camp Manito-wish YMCA.

If you would like to write for the Wetfoot, please email for submission guidelines.

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