Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Keeping a Reflective Log

Since I did my Foundation course for my Certificate in Adult Teaching over a decade ago, I have kept a reflective log about my teaching practice. I have a reminder task set quarterly, so if I forget to record at any point, I get a prompt. I find it very useful to note down the good, the bad and the ugly, and try to tease out what went wrong, and what went 'right'. I have a good long think about the entire incident, and try to think deliberately about my teaching practice, what surprised me, what I can improve, and what learning moments there are.

According to Kolb, we only know what our learning was when we reflect (1984). This is the area where prehension connects with observation: we watch ourselves and understand what drove our choices. This gives us the self- and other-understanding to make change the next time we experience this.

One of the best things about recording these reflections down is to go back to them later, and, in reviewing them, to build on our depth of understanding. We first get superficial, surface learning; then we see more layers; then we get to deeper and deeper levels of knowledge both of ourselves, and of the situation we were in. This type of reflection is powerful, as we are able to see more or strategies over time which we can apply in future situations: all of which we were initially blind to. Full enlightenment may occur many months or many years later.

Some people get blocked by the name, or the mechanism. It doesn't matter what we call our reflections, or the format we use for recording it. It might be a journal, a diary, a 'pillow book', a memoir, a daybook, 'morning words' or a table in a Word document (which is what I use). It might be writing longhand in a leather-bound book; it might be keyed into a private blog, talked in as an audio file, or videoed as a vlog 'mirror'. The point is not to get bogged in the details, but to find something that works for us to reflect, then to embed our learning (Moon, 2006).

As well is teaching, reflective journals are a commonly used tool in career practice and in the health sector (nursing, counselling, psychiatry, psychology). A reflective journal is useful to take to peer, or professional, supervision sessions. It is also very common to set student counselling assignments to include a reflective practice component, and I set a reflective journal assignments for my capstone student business research paper and for my leadership papers.

If you don't use a tool to help you reflect, seriously think about giving it a try.



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