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How Excellent Teachers Are Made: Reflecting on Success to Improve Teaching.

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Department of Medicine, Box 354760, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-4760, USA; E-mail: Email:


The authors surveyed forty-eight distinguished teachers from clinical departments regarding the role of instructional successes in learning to teach. Using qualitative content analysis of comments, the authors identified nine common successes in clinical teaching associated with planning, teaching, and reflection. In anticipatory reflection used for planning, common successes occurred by involving learners, continuously innovating, creating a positive atmosphere for learning, considering the learners, engaging the learners, preparing adequately, and limiting content. When reflecting-in-action, the success experience most commonly mentioned was maintaining flexibility in action. Reflecting-on-action after a successful teaching event, they commented on the importance of thoughtful analysis and choosing an appropriate strategy. These teachers incorporated reflective practice into their teaching as an essential component of professional development and incrementally improved their teaching based upon successful instructional experiences.


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