Sunday, 21 February 2016

Reflecting on reflective practice

As part of a MindLab assignment, I am reflecting on the article by Linda Finlay - 'reflecting on reflective practice' (Link):

The points that ring true to me are as follows:

  • I agree that being a teacher involves a pathway of lifelong learning, and as such, we need to hold ourselves accountable to critically reflect upon our own practice, and change when necessary.
  • It can be challenging and testing to reflect on situations and experiences that have not gone to plan, and to question how and why you should do things better next time - another point made was that it can be easy to avoid this reflection, and fall back on pre-conceived notions and ideas of how classrooms should be run. It is certainly more taxing and tiring to genuinely question your own practice.
  • The article mentions that over-reflection can also lead to self-doubt and destruction of confidence - especially if the term 'critical' is taken to have negative connotations. Therefore reflection of this nature needs to be well-supported.
  • Reflection activities with students should be done in a nurturing and natural way, with multiple ways of reflection presented to them, and the concept that sometimes there isn't a right answer.

Own use of a reflective model:

My own reflective practice appears to fall most closely to that proposed by Rhodes, Stokes and Hampton (A practical guide to mentoring, coaching, and peer-networking: teacher professional development in schools and colleges), as outlined below:

This model is not specifically discussed within the paper by Linda Finlay, however it includes the skills that underpin critical reflection, and also resembles the circular model of Gibbs. I relate most to this model of reflection as it has clear parallels to the overall teaching as inquiry process. The model detailed above appeals to me as it is scaffolded and is question-based, but mostly deals with strategies that could be used for change (eg. what skills do I have/need?) - other models rely on intuition and feeling, with Gibbs' model placing a fair amount of questioning on the feeling and analysis of good/bad outcomes. However, I believe that as a teacher, I automatically consider my feelings within a situation of concern, and would rather spend energy dealing in facts and approaches to change situations. This is also relevant for me, as teaching at HPSS requires many new approaches and strategies all the time, and I need a model for reflection that is straightforward to use. The article also emphasises that models like Gibbs do not allow for a more external approach, and instead focus only on the internal aspects of reflection - meaning that bigger, broader ideas regarding change may not be automatically approached. This is obviously hugely necessary - as we say to our students: 'you don't know what you don't know', and big picture thinking and reflecting is essential for lifelong learning as teachers.

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