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Full text of "ERIC ED517584: Reflective Teaching in Teaching Social Skills: Utopia or Necessity?"

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Intercultural Relations Society 2009. ISSN: 1512-4363 Number 6-7 pp. 183-188. 



Title: Reflective Teaching in Teaching Social Skills: Utopia or Necessity? 

By: Dr. Hakan Usakli 

ABSTRACT 

Social skills can be defined as the skills to be gained to the students at the beginning of the 
academic year, like engaging in, self introducing, and asking questions. Those skills can be 
gained by the teachers. 

Reflective teaching is very significant for teachers. Teachers pay attention to everything in the 
classroom during their instruction. They think of the objectives and the targets to be 
advanced, do objective observations, and then diversify the methods with respect to the 
classroom atmosphere. Reflective teaching is among the most popular practices studied 
recently. In this study, the value of reflective teaching for both the guidance practitioner 
(psychological counselor) and the teachers (secondary education teachers) is reported. 

Reflective teaching requires a lasting self-observation and self-evaluation in order to figure 
out both own and students’ behaviors and responses. In this study, the effect of an application 
of reflective teaching in group counseling on teaching social skills is investigated. The teacher 
arranged a group counseling meeting with other teachers in order to give orientation to first 
grade secondary students. In the study, the researcher clarifies the importance of reflective 
teaching for teacher development. Instead of listening the teacher responses like “They do not 
know”, “They are disregardful”, “They haven’t learned” or the whimpers like “These are all 
utopia, here come and do yourself’, it is better to explain them the reflective teaching as a 
counseling action. Although the reflective teaching is not common in our country, the 
professionals of this area found abroad, especially in United Kingdom and United States, can 
be invited to our country. In order to have a maximum efficacy, teachers should improve 
themselves for systematically researching the education context. 

Keywords: 

Social Skills Teaching, Reflective Teaching, Utopia 
Dr. Hakan Usakli Sinop Turkey hakanusakli@yahoo.com 

Introduction 

At the beginning of education year, especially for the first graders, skills like, engaging in, 
self-introducing, and reflecting understanding may be defined as social skills. Although such 
skills are considered to be simple when compared with science, history or philosophy 
education, these skills declare much complicated processes. They should be gained by the 
teachers. 

Teacher has various roles in the classroom. They are the information user, controller, creater 
and information supply in the classroom. Reflective teaching plays a big role in teachers’ self 
development. One can find the answer to the problem by making critical observations 
(especially with colleagues, Richards: 2009) . If one wants to be a criticizing reflective 
teacher, the first thing is to have good relationships with the students. The questions of “what” 
and “why” should be asked to the self. By this way, one can see his actions in the historical or 
cultural context. This is a way of developing yourself both as an individual and as society. 



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One can learn so much by realizing own faults. One can improve himself step by step. 
However, in order to do this, one should be open to every reform (Usakli, 2006: 2). 

Processes of Reflection 



Experience/continuous activity practice 
Problem 

Knowledge and observation 
Solutions 

Testing the ideas for evaluating validity 
Teacher is directly or indirectly affected by the society. 

The circle of activities in reflective teaching process 

Map construction: “what am I doing as a teacher?” 

• Recording the routines in the classroom in diaries 

• Thoughts about teaching 

• Observation and information collecting part 

Providing information: “what does the education I give mean?” 

• Developing self understanding of teaching method by communicating with colleagues 
and students 

• Identifying the uncertainties about educational objectives. 

Proving the truth: “how did I come up here?” 

• With the help of the ideas of colleagues, students, family and other people, proving 
our assumptions about our teaching method from a critical point of view 

Evaluation: “how else can I teach?” 

• Researching different teaching methods that are consistent with our new understanding 

• Evaluating proficiency 

Performing the behavior: “what and how can I teach now?” 

• Practical application of new ideas about education 

• Deciding on what and how to teach for being a good teacher (Usakli, 2007). 

The steps used by guidance counselor in social skills education: 

1) Collecting descriptive information: teacher needs detailed and different points of view 
when collecting information about the events in the classroom. They can achieve this by the 
data collection instruments they selected. In order to create an objective analysis, four 
different “lenses” are needed: 

e) teacher’s self experiences written about both the students and his point of views 

f) students’ views 

g) colleagues experiences and views 

h) the existing theory based literature (Usakli, 2005). 



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Teacher wants from a colleague to observe his class twice. The classroom teacher takes notes 
about the responses students give to the activities. He collects the observations on a paper. 

And besides, he keeps a diary to record the events. 

2) Analyzing the information: after the collection of the information, the data may be 
analyzed with respect to behaviors, assumptions, beliefs, objectives and results. Teacher asks 
these questions to himself: 

“what happened in the classroom?” 

“which theories are found in the data collected?” 

“what are the results of teacher behavior?” (Usakli, 2008). 

Each week, teacher summarizes what he recorded in the diary. He compares his notes with his 
colleagues’ notes and observations. 

3) Thinking about a different way for the situation or activity: the teacher should examine the 
alternative ways produced. The observer discusses with his colleague the ways to make the 
students active and developer. Teacher visits his colleague’s class to observe the teaching 
method, and also talk about this concept with the two other beginning level teachers. 

4) Creating a plan to combine new understandings: reflection aims to develop educational 
apphcation so, teachers should combine the information and view they obtained by the 
reflective teaching they applied in the classroom. The important thing is to combine the 
understandings and continue to reflective process in the outgoing planning, deciding and 
observing the effect operations (Wetton, Cansell, 1993). 

Significance: It is important for the first grade high school students to gain some skills from 
the classroom teachers at the beginning of the semester. Especially the skills like self 
introducing and engaging in the lesson should be gained by the students at the very beginning 
of the academic year. This can be achieved by a collaborative work of both the guiding 
teacher and the students. This study is important for both the guiding teachers’ strategy 
development in making the students gain social skills, and for the teachers declaring the 
complicacy they face. 

Results 

As a result, reflective teaching offers some practical choices that may lead to professional 
development. It encourages teachers to develop and share their ideas and theories about 
teaching. 

e) Elexibility: this application can be used in educational contexts, student groups and 
curriculum programs. There exists related sources and sufficient teacher training in this 
subject. Reflective teaching addresses such a variation. 

f) Usability: reflective teaching is useful for teachers who have limited time and sources. 

g) Professionalism: it helps in the development of planning, in the application of 
education and theories and in the development of careful behaviors. Teachers develop 
reacting and responding skills when they are teaching. 

h) Durability: reflective teaching requires a cycling process. If the issue is not achieved in 
the first application, same process is applied again. 



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Reflective teaching requires a permanent self development, and sufficient time to achieve this. 
In order to apply reflective teaching, teachers should be trained, time should be given for the 
experiment, and the chance for self development should be given for this application. 

The problems teachers face at the beginning of education: 

In the construction of education, the priority of the teacher lies down his language, learning 
and teaching assumptions. The most significant differences are in alternative views, aims and 
objectives of reflective education. 

In order to develop his teaching style teacher asks some questions to himself. There are two 
types of reflective teaching: micro- reflective teaching and macro- reflective teaching. Micro 
reflective teaching is concerned with the content and objectives, as can be seen from the 
following questions. 

• How can I teach the vocabulary and grammar structures in the book better? 

• How can I comprehend all the issues in the curriculum better? 

• How can I achieve the group work better in a noisy class? 

• How can I organize an efficient parents meeting? 

• How can I organize staff meetings? 

• How can I arrange better field trips? 

Macro reflective teaching gives importance to lifelong teacher development and student 
education. It is concerned with the following: 

• Do my students have the right to choose? 

• Is autonomous, individual or collaborative education dominating in my class? 

• Am I aware of student needs? 

• How does my teaching style affect my students? 

• Should I be a noisy teacher in a noisy class? 

• How can I create an environment which makes the parents active? 

• What is the educational meaning of quality? 

• Where is my place in this area? Am I static or flexible? 

In this article, the author used the research on behavior. According to the results of a study, 
teachers gave more importance to micro reflective teaching than macro reflective teaching. 

Recommendations 

One of the problems faced in reflective teaching is the over emphasis given to the technical 
aspect. Another problem is that teacher’s personal and social theories about language 
education may not be harmonic. 

Reflective teaching is not enough for professional development. One should also consider the 
qualitative aspect of reflection. 

Teacher’s mission is to handle with students’ unexpected problems so they should improve 
themselves day by day. Teaching is a lifelong job. 

Reflective teaching requires time, and teachers usually have difficulty in spending time and 
energy for this project when they are busy. This is a big problem for them. 



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One another problem is the difficulty of recording the observations and data on a paper. Data 
collection is usually fun for teachers but when it is time to record the data, teachers find it 
irritating and time consuming. 

The active collaboration of the guiding teacher and other teachers in order to benefit from 
reflective teaching in social skills acquisition 

Teachers’ sense of belonging to a professional group should be developed. When this group is 
shared with other groups, the whole group will grow stronger. Moreover, the reflective 
teaching researcher assures collaboration among the people studying this area. This 
collaborative aspect among teachers, students, families and even school authorities reduces 
the lonehness feeling of teachers. 

Reflective teaching is more beneficial in international level? 

The international courses on reflective teaching provide several advantages for efficient 
professional development. No teacher should neglect that classes are different from each 
other. For example, like the developmental differences among first grade high school 
teachers, there are also differences between different high school types. Therefore, the social 
skills education is differing. One should not neglect the role of personal differences and 
culture on teaching. 

Teachers usually find it discouraging to share their teaching style deficiencies with their 
colleagues. However, when the teachers are given the chance to talk with professionals, they 
may freely talk about everything. 

Professionalism honor is an important aspect in teacher development. This sense may grow 
stronger with international teacher groups. 

References: 

Richards, J. C. http://www.tttjournal.co.uk (13 Jun 2009). 

Usakli, H. (2005) “Turkish teaching problems of immigrant families’ children in 
Izmir in terms of their Turkish teachers. Unpublished Master Dissertation, DEU. 

Usakli, H. (2006) “Who Needs Drama? Who cares us! Drama Lectures Notes. (ERASMUS 
Student Mobility Program Conference Sinop. 

Usakli, H. (2007) “Communication Democratically, With in the School and Eamily Context 
Groups. Conference Sinop. 

Usakli, H. (2008) “Developing Observation Skills” Short Lectures for Students who need Self 
Help in international school settings. 

Wetton, N. & Cansel, P. (1994). Peeling Good: Raising Self-Esteem in the 
Primary School Classroom. London: Porbes Publications Ltd. 



Title: Reflective Teaching in Teaching Social Skills: Utopia or Necessity? 

Dr. Hakan Usakli 

Drama Leader and teacher trainer in international and multi cultural educational settings. 
Help Desk for Counselor and Guidance Practitioner Educational Psychologist 



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