Reflective Practice - rpc1-mission statement

John Pfordresher has started this whole thing about Reflective Practice (RP) in his blog . Then he challenged some ELT bloggers and educators to participate in what he calls RP challenge.  Having said that and being inspired by some colleagues I accepted the challenge.

What's Reflective Practice?

From my point of view RP is a way of internally reflect and studying your own experiences to improve the way you work. It  has been very useful to me and I guess it is very  useful to all those who want to carry on learning throughout their lives. The act of reflection is a great way to increase confidence and become a more proactive and qualified professional. Engaging reflective practice  has helped  me  improve the quality of my job and shorten ( if not close) the gap between theory and practice. Thinking about my role as mentor. for example, I'd say that , unless this link is made, then simply reading up on the evidence base is of little practical value.

"Evidence-based practice needs to retain a practical focus and to build a reflective practice" 
(Atkins, 1993)

                               Photo taken from ELT Pics "Reflections" by @CliveSir

Usually RP is timing consuming , sometimes painful , it demands from us a lot of critical thinking and an open mind to  develop new perspectives. In addition it might be a journey you'll need to share and ask for help.

I believe and I have experienced that RP demands an internal exam of self and of the situation - it has to do with experience and the awareness of  issues or situations that do not unfold in the way we would expect and it consequently takes us to a critical analysis (thinking in action) which leads both to the examination of feelings and knowledge.

Where I am at the moment:

Being in the market for quite a long time ( almost 28 years ) I have reached a position of a senior teacher, I was a coordinator and a DOS. Now I  see myself as a leaner again. My RP led me to the  conclusion that I need:

  • to study more
  • to be a better time manager  
  • to teach more 
  • to mentor more 
  • to be mentored. 

To study more: As an MA student I am struggling with a lot of theory, exams and assignments which  have surprised  me in the sense that they have been more helpful for my own  professional development (as a more qualified ELT professional ) than to the audience I am teaching at the moment. However, at some point it will be of great help, I hope.

To teach more:  Had been worked as a DOS and school co-ordinator for a long time, it prevented me from teaching. Yes, I was away from the classroom for some time. And I do regret it.  Being involved only with teacher training and some administrative issues, prevented me from developing and enjoying my teaching skills. On the other hand, coming back to the classroom (since September 2012) has made me notice both positive and needs-improvement points in my teaching  practice ( based only on my own RP) :

1. Some positive points:

  • I was born to be a teacher and I do love what I do. 
  • I am patient and  I stablish rapport very easily with my SS
  • I care about my SS and I am not afraid of being assertive with them when necessary 
  • I try  hard to adapt my lessons according to my SS' wants and needs
  • My SS have done well and I could clear notice their satisfaction and sense of achievement. 
  • I negotiate with my students the more I can 

2. Needs- improvement points about my teaching:
  • I need to spend less hours preparing lessons . It's amazing I still haven't learned how to do it after such a long time. Perhaps a very close friend of mine (and mentor) is right when he told me: " It's not a matter of management. It's just too much on a plate for one person..." 
  • I do need to reduce  my level of expectations in the sense that I cannot expect that: All my SS will love my lessons or  that they will be100% successful . Yes, I need to be more realistic. 
  • I do need to reduce my perfectionism. 

To mentor more and to be mentored:

I consider mentoring  to be one of the most rewarding areas. I have posted before about mentoring and I do believe in what I say and do in this area.  Being a mentor makes us not only help others in their careers but also leads us reflect  upon our own role as a teacher, mentor and educator. Mentoring sharpens our listening skills and makes us think more wisely before speaking. The moment I start mentoring , I always feel the need to be mentored as I , many times,  see in the mentee my own strengths and weaknesses. I compare it to the times when I used to work as a therapist (yes, I gave up my psychologist career to become a teacher and I do not regret at all! ) and I needed a supervisor, my therapist and mentor, to help me support my patients to carry their burdens, overcome their difficulties or  deal with them in a healthier way , I mean,  with less pain.

What about my students and my teaching from now on

They are  the central point of my RP and thinking about them  I'll write my RP  missions statement which is:

Check other Reflective Practice Mission Statements:

And let's also listen to the winds of our souls! 

Enjoy your teaching!


The Other Side said...

Hi Roseli,

Thank you for a thought provoking and intriguing post. Your sharing of your own reflection UPON your reflections and how you reflect are immensely enlightening and speak to exactly what I was hoping to accomplish with this challenge of ours.

as you said...reflection requires an "internal exam of self and of the situation". I couldn't have put it better myself.

I am so pleased that this conversation has begun. I think you and everyone who has participated so far (be it post or comment) has added extraordinary value and richness to our discussion. I have learned an immense amount already and we're only at the opening stages.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you in subsequent posts and reflective challenges!


Roseli Serra said...

Hi John,

Thank you so much for you kind words. I'm happy I have accomplished the mission of sharing my RP. Reflecting has been part of my life and , I believe, I've become more reflective with age and experience. I still need to learn more and reflect on why I want too much on a plate if the right amount of nutritious food is enough to feed me well . Considering learning is an endless process and that reflection is part of it, I guess I'm on the right path.

I thank you so much for including me in such a wonderful challenge and cannot wait for the next one.


Hana Tichá said...

A lovely post, Roseli.

Thanks for joining in. This #RPPLN wouldn’t be complete without you. And I’m expecting more friends to hop on somewhere along the track.:-)

I like the way you stress 'learning' when you talk about teachers. I like it because it's not generally what's expected from teachers - to learn. They are supposed to present and teach. Anyway, I'd say that the word ‘teacher’ is becoming a little out-dated and we should start using a different, more appropriate term. I do so many things along with teaching - I educate, share, inform, motivate, inspire and on top of that, I devote a big portion of my time to learning.

I'm happy to see all the positive points in your list and I'm thrilled to hear you sacrificed your previous profession to become an educator. That tells something about your passion and we thank you for that!

Roseli Serra said...

Dear Hana,

Words like yours not only touch me but also inspire me to move on as educator. Yes., I must confess sometimes I am about to give up. It's tiring, it's time consuming and I feel I know very little and I need to learn more and more! And then I ask myself: Its it worth? Will it stop one day?I could be making money doing something else or just start slowing down, couldn't I? But then something happens, out of the blue or at the beginning of semester, or when SS ask if you'll be their teacher again because they love and will miss you... and then I get completely renewed , passionate and totally in love with teaching, learning, caring, sharing, hugging and having fun with my younger SS, mentoring teachers and such and such. And you know? I'm also thrilled I became a teacher. I'm sure I have had a lot more fun with my students than I would have had in my other career. It's indeed rewarding !

Thank you so much for your encouraging words . I'm truly happy for being part of this journey with such amazing colleagues like you!



Anonymous said...

Hi Roseli,
Thank you for writing this excellent post. I really like how you said that teaching and learning is a two-way process. It made me think that as teachers we teach and students learn, but students also have a lot to teach us and we have a lot to learn. I must never forget it. I also love that every aspect of your professional life is involved in your reflective process, from studying to teaching to administrating to mentoring. What an amazing way to live.

Roseli Serra said...

Hi, Lizzie

Thank you so much for you encouraging words. To be an educator you need to believe in what you do , stop , reflect, sometimes, give a step back (or more steps back) and restart learning to teach from your learners and mentees. Experience has taught me I have a lot to learn from them in order to share my knowledge more effectively when mentoring and/or teaching. It's worth indeed.

Thank you again for motivating me to keep on my jorrney as an educator and as a blogger.

Get in touch whenever you wish.


Zhenya said...

Hi Roseli

I loved your honesty and self-analysis in this post. From time to time I share the same challenge as you do about the amount of lesson planning time and the need to get back to learners' shoes (one of the reasons I joined RP) I am wondering if this challenge is linked to the question about teaching and learning and the perfectionism you are talking about. One thing I would like to 'borrow' from your RP mission statement is your question to yourself on 'how my learning and teaching have impacted my life and the others' - I think this is a wonderful reflective destination to follow! Thank you for sharing and helping me reflect more! Zhenya

Roseli Serra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roseli Serra said...

Hi , Zhenya

Thank you so much for your words and encouragement. Yes, you are totally right : this challenge is linked to the question about teaching and learning and the perfectionism I am talking about. I feel I still have a lot to learn and I do hope to improve my teaching and my practice in general both as a teacher and as a learner . And yes, you can borrow anything from me, please, feel free ! Get in touch and let's share! I'm sure I have a lot to learn from you too.

Again , thank you very much for such positive words!


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