Self Study: Reflecting on what I have learnt about my teaching

Over the last few weeks, I have been conducting a mini inquiry to identify trends in my current practice. One limitation that I have had throughout this inquiry is that I am focussing on my literacy practice but currently do not have my literacy class (and will have gone almost a term without teaching them). Instead, I have been analysing my literacy practice with my maths class, which may slightly alter what I notice. I am aware of this and will be conducting some further data gathering at the start of next term, to get some more baseline data for my inquiry and to reflect further on my practice.
I used three sources of data to inform this inquiry, a student voice survey, an analysis of my planning/ student activities and an observation of my teaching. I have interpreted each of these independently and I am now making connections between them and the literature that I have read on this topic.

My focus question for this was: how am I supporting my students to monitor their own understanding of a text and their use of strategies?

Reciprocal Reading

One of the research papers I read (Spörera & Schünemannb, 2014) identified reciprocal reading as a worthwhile strategy, as students explicitly discuss their use of reading strategies. I usually use reciprocal reading for a term as an intervention for my lower readers. I've found success with it in the past moving students who are 'stuck' reading around 8 or 9 years. In the videos of my teaching reciprocal reading however, I realised that I was neglecting some of the strategies. I really wasn't doing 'clarify' or 'question' as much justice as I could have. Yet, I noticed that two of my students who caught on to the idea of questioning, used the strategy to unpack a complex text. At the moment, I see RT as still having a place in my teaching, but I think I need to work more on my delivery of it.

Teaching Self-regulation

All of the literature I read suggested that self-regulation should be taught explicitly and discussed within the context of reading (Nash-Ditzel, 2014; Souvignier & Mokhlesgerami, 2006; Spörera & Schünemannb, 2014). This could involve defining the term with students and sharing strategies to help them monitor their own understanding. When I watched the videos I certainly didn't see myself talk about self-regulation, nor was I asking the students to monitor their own understanding. I found the same when I searched my planning and the activities I design for students - there was very little that linked to the explicit teaching of self-regulation or monitoring.

However, when I asked my maths class, they shared that I did get them to consider their understanding relatively often. When I discussed this with them, I realised I do a lot of self-assessment and monitoring in maths, but very little in reading. Some of the students recalled me asking a question like 'how challenging did you find that book, or how well do you understand it', but I didn't follow it up with 'how do you know' - my purpose for asking was more of a judgement on my own text selection rather than to support their understanding.

Teaching Reading Strategies

The literature also discussed the idea of teaching reading strategies, but supporting students to understand when to apply them independently.  I can definitely see that I teach specific strategies from my observation, student voice and planning. However, I don't often discuss when to use them and I certainly don't ask students what strategy they used to understand a text. This was most strongly highlighted when 57% of my students said I had never asked them what strategy they had used. Some of the others recalled us talking about strategies to make sense of new vocabulary.

Where Next?

Since gathering this data I have already started to make changes to my practice (how could I not). I have started talking to my students about monitoring their understanding - "are you actually imagining what is happening or are your eyes just running over words?".  Already a student wrote this on their blog:

I'm actually proud of myself with this task because, I don't take much time to read the story properly and I don't take time to understand what the story is telling me. Today was different as I took my time and processed what the story is about. I was able to understand what it was telling me and I very much enjoyed learning about something new!

It is time to start considering my intervention and getting my head back to my original literacy class.


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