Sunday, 25 April 2010

On reflection

It seems an appropriate time to be reflecting. It's annual performance appraisal time and also almost a year since I started in my current post. It's also a year since 5 days study leave saw me hours away from having a completed CILIP chartership portfolio!

I've also attended a couple of events recently that have moved on my thinking in this area. 

The first, was organised by my colleague Paul, along with the Housing Studies Unit at the University of Stirling. The half day (and a bit) reflective practice taster session was targeted primarily at regenation practitioners, but the content was fairly generic and applicable to anyone who wants be more reflective.

(the photo is from the room at the Stirling Highland Hotel where the event took place)

We kicked off by fondling a lemon :-) and talking about our thoughts as we did so. An interesting exercise designed to help us understand the way we make associations. Unfortunately, being in the later stages of a cold that had hung around for 4 weeks I couldn't smell the lemon which meant I wasn't able to engage all my senses!

We then looked at a simplified version of Kolb's learning cycle - essentially: what? so what? now what? - and how to apply that to our reflective practice.

That was followed by a discussion about the barriers to reflective practice, including the reality that it's not the way we've been educated to write. And in my case that's something that has been amplified by being in the civil service for so long!

We'd been given some homework to prepare for the event - writing a diary style entry examining something that recently happened in our professional life. As mentioned in previous blog posts ad finitum I've been trying to be reflective in my practice for sometime now, so I cheated a wee bit and took along a blog post I had already written. We worked in pairs to rate each others homework (along with some sample pieces) on the following scale:

1. Description
2. Description with reflection
3. Stepping back and mulling it over
4. Critical reflection

My partner and I agreed that I'm probably at level 2, so I've a bit to go yet.

The key personal learning point for me was the confirmation that even when I think I've been reflective, I've only really been scratching the surface. I thought that once I'd made a conscious effort to be reflective that it would just happen - that it would be a fairly natural organic development of my writing style.

So I'm going to give structured reflection a go. After each event I attend I'll make a point of asking myself some specific questions under the headings of what, so what and now what (we were given a skeleton/template at the event, but I'm going to draft my own version, which I'll share when it's done).
The event also prompted some discussion about how we (the Scottish Centre for Regeneration) can help our learning network members become more reflective in their practice. Should we, for example, build in some time in our events for reflection? Watch this space for further thoughts...

The second event, was a workshop run at LILAC by Merinda Kaye Hensley on critical reflection for teaching librarians (but again, the content was fairly generic).

Over the course of a couple of hours we had the chance to develop a personal teaching narrative and to gain an understanding of how to support a community of practice in the classroom through guided peer observation.

Two key learning points for me. Merinda has come up with 25 critical reflection prompts which I can incorporate into my structured reflection framework. And secondly, that when I learn something from a workshop/lecture/training session I should give some thought to how that learning happened. 

OK, having looked back at this post, I think I've just about covered the what?, so what? and now what? Perhaps not up to level 4 yet, but it's progress!


Victoria Bird said...


Just to say thanks for a very interesting blog post on reflection. Am attempting Thing 5 at the moment, and this has helped. Am Chartered, but reflection is still something I struggle with!

Hope you don't mind, but I've posted the link to this post on my blog- details below.

Lel said...

Hi Victoria

Thanks, pleased you found this post useful.

If it's any consolation (probably not!), it's still something I struggle with! Blogging helps though.

Good luck with your reflecting!