The most wonderful part of a reflective practice (RP) meeting is the insight. No matter your experience, age or qualification, everyone provides fantastic insight from which I learn. It never fails. Each and every meeting I am provided some a new perspective with which to consider.
Today I learned perhaps the greatest gift to date. It’s utterly simple yet ridiculously difficult to do.
As teachers, we too need to give ourselves space. We need space to acknowledge, process and prioritze.
Our most recent RP meeting focused on a moment. A moment in class when we as teachers realize, “wait! something isn’t quite right.”
It seems a simple thing, but once we really broke it down we found it quite complex and useful to discuss our differing strategies to cope with such a “turn off course” in a lesson.
Much of what I reflect on regards emotions. I have found that this is largely because I am an emotional being. In that I mean that I have found, in life as in teaching, I do not always succeed in keeping my emotions from controlling my actions.
Reflecting-in-time is something I have been working on this year. It is also something immensely difficult for me, and recently I have felt as though I were stuck. I was discouraged and left without a way forward. I felt this way because I didn’t acknowledge the road blocks my emotions were putting up in front of me.
In addition, I always acknowledged, at least on the surface, but never really contemplated on the fact that I need to empathize with myself. It seems utterly selfish. I need (and most importantly it’s OK!) time and space to process what is happening in my classroom. I’m still coming to terms with the OKness of this idea now.
It was as if a giant wave of relief crashed over me when I heard this.
I don’t need to analyze what and why.
I don’t need to fix it there and then.
I need to read the situation, take the time to acknowledge my feelings and those of my students, and then set them aside. Only after that can I productively assess the situation and prioritize what I can and need to do to best complete the objectives of that day.
It’s ok to leave the other stuff to reflect upon later.
I’m still not sure how this participant manages all of this with such ease. I’m definitely not sure how I can succeed in following in his wise footsteps. However, I have been working through my experiential learning cycle (ELC). I think I have a plan.
Firstly, when taking notes on class I will reserve a section for myself.
I will take the time I need to not just acknowledge, but write down my feelings. I will do this by creating a personal section in my notes of class. I will break this section into 4 categories.
ONE: Write your feelings
TWO: Why are you feeling this way?
THREE: Empathize with myself. Empathize with my students
FOUR: Prioritize. What needs to be done. What can be done. What should I do next.
How’s that for a SMART plan! And all thanks to a single participants single comment during a two hour RP meeting. Thanks to him, and the space created for exploration that RP provides, I now have a strategy to overcome the stumbling blocks that have frustrated my reflection-in-action conundrum of the past year.
In addition, I have realized how I might affect change with long acknowledged aspects of myself that I find most in need of adjustment.
It is truly amazing what reflective practice can accomplish.