Reflection Part II
Leadership Thoughts | Issue #91
As I contemplated a theme for this week's Leadership Thoughts, the article Making Time to Reflect by Rachele Dene Poth kept coming to the forefront. I had already discussed reflection in Issue #75. However, I still wanted to emphasize the article because it aligned with my beliefs about introspection—and it was an ideal time to contemplate.
Rachele Dene Poth is a teacher, lawyer, speaker, advisor, and writer of seven books. Her most recent book, Thing I Wish I Knew, comprises stories from fifty educators.
As I read the piece, I found every point further reinforcing my beliefs about self-reflection. The author used a John Dewey quote which I often put in my emails: “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
The three key points of reflection, according to Dene Poth is:
Key Point #1:
The practice of reflection is essential for us as educators, and it is vital that we help our students develop their own practices.
I once overheard someone saying they had no time to contemplate what had already been accomplished. Have you ever encountered somebody who is too busy in the present that they don’t have time to reflect? The writer of this article and I disagree with them; we believe that reflecting is a vital ability for everyone, especially teachers and school leaders.
Key Point #2:
We need ongoing feedback when it comes to our reflective practice as educators.
If you are a teacher, Dene Poth recommends asking yourself the following questions.
What am I doing differently this year?
How did I start this school year with students?
Did I dive right into teaching the content, or did I spend time getting to know students and providing opportunities for them to build relationships?
Am I teaching in the exact same way I did last year? Using the same materials and providing the same resources, have I changed things, and now I can see a difference and an impact on student learning?
As a school leader, I recommend you ask yourself the following reflective questions:
What do I need to do more, and what do I need to do less of?
Who are the people that can help me grow as a leader?
Am I clear on what I value, believe, and my purpose?
How would I evaluate my “relationship score”? (Excellent, In progress, Needs Help)
What is the one thing I am willing to commit to improving?
Key Point #3:
Be open to the opportunities that come up, especially if that means that they will positively impact what we are providing our students.
I often say that growth can't happen without reflection, and the author agrees. She also believes that teachers need regular feedback beyond the occasional observation. In my experience, feedback is always present in the classroom, whether it’s visible in a student’s expression of confusion or through a more formal feedback loop.
I strongly encourage instructors and school administrators to engage in one-on-one conversations with a colleague who can give them honest feedback and pose questions that will help them reflect.
The author presented four ways to focus on reflection and provided useful tips and tools: surveys, personal notes, professional learning networks/professional learning communities, and videos/observations. Rachelle Dene Poth and I both recognize how difficult it can be to find the time to reflect, but it is nevertheless a crucial part of improvement for teachers and school leaders. Wanting to better oneself sets the stage for reflection on what we do, why we do it, and its impact.
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