What are Reflective Practice Groups?

Reflective Practice Groups (RPGs) are a systematic way to process classroom events in a supportive environment focused on professional growth. RPGs attempt to accomplish two primary goals. The first is to reveal the challenges that all teachers face in their practices. A second goal is to examine and clarify the basis of one's own practice through underlying questions: 1) What are my teaching practices? 2) What are the teaching theories that drive these practices? 3) How did I come to teach this way? 4) What are my options to better assist students? (Smyth, 1998)

Reflective Practice Groups are formed to include beginning teachers and their mentors, experienced teachers, district administrators and college faculty members. When possible, RPG composition crosses grade levels, content areas and buildings so that a broadened instructional perspective is gained. As a result, RPG participants are asked to maintain confidentiality about student names and building issues discussed in their groups.

RPG members meet monthly after school with the same group over the course of one year. They follow a democratic process where all participants take turns facilitating their group. The RPG ten-step process (see Figure below) can be completed in one and a half to two hours.