the S.I.R. Process
Self-Initiation & Reflection
Teachers need to learn how to work at improving their craft. They need to take initiative in getting good information about their classroom practice. With S.I.R, teacher-candidates get to see actual data from their classroom experience and participate in a self-directed conversation about that data. They have specific information on which to base their reflections rather than a nebulous memory of what they think happened.
Supervisors and observers grow as they collect data and learn about the unique characteristics of the teacher-candidate and the students. Supervisors also learn the importance of balance between themselves and the teacher-candidate. Their role goes beyond providing advice and shifts to one where they encourage self-initiation, self-analysis and reflection. They facilitate this by collecting specific data from the classroom experience. This leads to prospective teachers who have tools for continuous growth throughout their career. The supervisor also reflects on the teaching / learning process they are observing.
Supervisors and observers take a non-judgmental stance in this process. The objective is not to create a student teacher who is trying to please the supervisor and guess what they like, but rather one who is taking initiative to improve their craft and has some tools to gather good data.
This observation model emphasizes the role of, and need for, self-efficacy. When teacher-candidates (and teachers) initiate plans for their own growth, there is more possibility for change and much less fear of the process. They take charge of their own analysis of what they need to focus on and on reflecting on the data that is collected for them.
Teachers must make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. Teacher who need to be told what to do and how well they did the task will become overly dependent on other people's perceptions. Student teachers who practice self-initiation can analyze their decisions and make adjustments on their own. But they will also be used to the idea of allowing others to collect data for them so that their reflection has a solid basis.
The supervision process should be fair to all parties. The field is leveled a bit when the teacher-candidate has input (indeed, takes initiative) into choosing the data to be collected. The supervisor’s status is undiminished but allows for discussion and choice about the data to be collected. Since there is a continuous process of self-initiation and reflection, evaluation is simply a summation of the process and thus eliminates surprises in the final assessment. Everyone involved has good information about the development of the teacher candidate.
Discuss lesson ideas
What is chosen as the focus for the observation should come out of what the intent of the lesson is. If the lesson is for students to work on group projects, then collecting data on large group questioning technique will not produce much useful data. Gathering data about how the teacher moves around the room, or how they interact with and activate groups, or how individual groups are working would be of value for reflection.
The student teacher should suggest ideas for data-gathering since they know best how the time will be spent. However this should be done in consultation with the supervisor whose observations over time will indicate areas to consider.
What can actually be observed? It is important to collect information that is relatively objective and is non-judgmental. Observable actions and clear categories are very important. Focus on using these.
Decide on data collection
When you have decided together on observable actions you can create a plan to collect the data. This includes the time and place, and requires setting up (or choosing) the room layout and the template or list of categories or the timing pattern. The data should be simple to collect and the supervisor should always feel free to add comments that can be discussed after the student teacher has first had a chance to reflect on the collected information.
On the agreed time and place the supervisor (or some other interested party) can collect the data. The results should be made available to the supervisor and student teacher immediately.
Interpreting the Results
The sharing process should begin with the student teacher and it is extremely important for the supervisor to remain non-judgmental during the self-analysis process:
- 1) The student teacher should discuss the lesson/working time focusing on the strengths of the lesson or activity and
- Talk about how the lesson could be improved.
Possible ‘reflection’ questions:
Or consider (from Hattie 2012):
You might write this in chart format:
Went Well | Would Reconsider
- 2) Then the student teacher will ask for the data that has been collected on their behalf and begin to analyze that data.
3) The difficult part initially for the observer or supervisor is to not interfere with the self-analysis and just letting the student teacher lead on this. Learning to wait with your comments and advice is hard, but absolutely necessary if the student teacher is going to take ownership of their learning process. The hope is that the student teacher will cover the essential points in the self-analysis process.
Set new goals
Based on the data and reflection, the process of setting new goals begins. It may be that a prior goal has been reached and it’s time to explore new areas, or it may be that the current goal still needs work. Either way, a new timeline should be set to reach and observe the progress to the goal.