scaffolding teachers’ reflection – meaning-oriented

was reading Korthagen (2017)’s article “inconvenient truths about teacher learning: towards professional development 3.0”, and saw the mention that very often teachers may find reflection not useful as they may not know how to do it. (p.392) Korthagen introduced a possible approach – ALACT model.

the 5-phase ALACT includes (1) action; (2) looking back on the action; (3) awareness of essential aspects; (4) creating alternative methods of action; (5) trial. apart from the how-to itself, Korthagen emphasised the importance of focusing on the emotional and motivational aspects (cf. rational) during the reflection. teachers should bring in their personal theories (which are grounded in their own practices and this more relevant) (cf. formal/experts’ theories). further scaffolds for the reflection to support the transition from phase 2 to 3 include asking the following questions (p.394):

0. What is the context?
1. What did I think?
2. How did I feel?
3. What did I want?
4. What did I do?
5. What did the pupils think?
6. How did the pupils feel?
7. What did the pupils want?
8. What did the pupils do?

such reflections are meaning-oriented (cf. action oriented (Hoekstra, 2007)) as it includes the dimensions of thinking, feeling, wanting and acting. for such reflections to be effective, it requires the guidance of experienced experts or more knowledgeable others. the “inconvenient truth” (p.393) for policymakers and teacher educators would be that “we will have to focus on individual teachers and support them in their idiosyncratic learning processes. (p.393)” following this argument, for teachers to effectively learn something that will improve their practices, individualised mentoring is a necessity. this perhaps explains the limited efficacy of mass-production-styled short-term workshops/courses. i think this has also serious implication on the Studios of our blended learning workshop design and implementation.

furthermore, meaning-oriented reflection should ideally include all the layers of the onion model (Korthagen, 2004): [inner most layer] (1) core qualities (“people’s personal qualities, such as creativity, trust, care, courage, sensitivity, decisiveness, spontaneity, commitment and flexibility” (p.396)); (2) Mission – what inspires me? what is my ideal?; (3) Identity – who am i (in my work)?; (4) Beliefs – what do i believe in the situation?; (5) Competenices – what am i competent at?; (6) Behaviour – what do i do?; (7) Environment – what do i encounter? what am i dealing with? [outer most layer] (as cited in p.395)

another important note towards the end of the article – always take into consideration the teacher’s (school) context of their actual work right from the beginning for any changes to occur. lastly, perhaps we already know, for any approach to be effective, it needs to be intensive and sustained over time.

Korthagen, F. (2017). Inconvenient truths about teacher learning: Towards professional development 3.0. Teachers and Teaching, 23(4), 387-405. DOI:10.1080/13540602.2016.1211523

reflection photo(acknowledgement: Photo by WolfBlur)

teachers’ pd and change in teachers’ beliefs

as a note to self, extracting this from my own writing:

“Fives and Buehl (2012) have identified two salient features of professional development program that could encourage change in teachers’ beliefs — a focus on task or strategy, and the development of a community of practice among participants.” (p.338)

Fives, H., & Buehl, M. M. (2008). What do teachers believe? Developing a framework for examining beliefs about teachers’ knowledge and ability. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33(2), 134-176.

change photo

prior to operationalise

prior to operationalising some (new) pedagogy, teaching approach, methods, or (fill in the blank), something needs to be addressed. we just so happen to talk abt this over lunch yesterday in our 3-men gathering. and a while ago, this post was surfaced via su fen‘s fb feed “How to Design a Classroom Built on Inquiry, Openness and Trust“. 无巧不成书也。

as the word “How to” in the title suggests, the article primarily addresses the Operational aspects of things. but the experience from my recent work, coupled with past experiences, tells me that something probably needs to be addressed prior to operations — the Psychological aspect. to be specific, the Beliefs (of teachers; note: not students, yet). questions to be addressed would include:

what are your beliefs about Learning? what are your assumptions about how your students learn? what beliefs of learning are the target/new pedagogy/approach/method founded on? how does these match/clash with your current beliefs/assumptions? going a step further, how many or which of these are informed or guided by Learning Sciences?

w/o addressing Psychology/Beliefs, teachers can probably still psuedo-operationalise anything. and the end results would likely be akin to SDL = student completes assigned homework independently; CoL = working in groups. and when the boss doesn’t ‘demand’ it anymore, would the practice still stays, or we go back to square one? as a side note, we discussed abt the practice of ‘lesson study’ in school during lunch yesterday.

while belief(s) cannot be changed overnight, it needs to be addressed right at the beginning, and revisited very often. why? so that it becomes something teachers include in their review/reflection of their practice/operations. in doing so, we’ll likely see more successful shifts and hear more success stories. this is #myHypothesis w/o digging into the literature yet 😛

gears photoPhoto by el_rogos

a quick quote related to teachers’ PD

“(contrary to commonly held notions) change in teachers’ attitudes and beliefs is primarily a result, rather than a cause, of change in the learning outcomes of students. In the absence of evidence of positive change in students’ learning, it suggests that significant change in the attitudes and beliefs of teachers is unlikely.” (Guskey, 2002, p.386)

— chanced upon via tandfonline

TLCSL 2015 paper

in a few days’ time, the 4th International Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language (TLCSL 2015) with SCCL as main organiser will be held.

Screenshot 2015-09-04 TLCSL 2015


(An Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-based blended learning approach to Singapore Chinese Language teachers’ professional development: A preliminary look at a pilot project; by TAN, Yuh Huann; TAN, Yan Ni; CHOW, Fong Yee)

Screenshot 2015-09-05 18.36.57

feel free to leave your questions and/or comments after reading the paper. we thank you for your time and interest, 谢谢 😉

//update Sep 9, 2015

click here to find the set of presentation slides (:
在此下载报告中所用的简报 (:

// end update

to cite:
Tan, Y.H., Tan, Y.N., & Chow, F.Y. (2015). An information and communications technology (ICT)-based blended learning approach to Singapore Chinese Language teachers’ professional development: A preliminary look at a pilot project. Paper presented at the 4th International Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language, Singapore. Retrieved from

陈育焕、陈雁妮、周凤儿. (2015). 新加坡华文教师基于资讯科技的混成式专业进修方式初探. 第四届华文作为第二语言之教与学国际研讨会,新加坡。下载自