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"
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: