finding space

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.


4 thoughts on “finding space

  1. It is truly amazing how the post I got this morning in my mailbox tells in your words the story I could be telling. Apart from the SMART plan, obviously, but now that you’ve posted it… it could be my plan, too, right?
    I think I’m close to feeling OK about letting myself feel utterly selfish and give space. I’m finding emotions ruling over my classes way too often.
    I’ve never been in a RP meeting as I doubt there’s any of these held here. Which probably means I must initiate one. As I surely need it.

    Thank you for this post, John. It’s been my perfect Monday treat.


    • Thank you Ann for your lovely response. It is always a pleasure to know I have connected with someone on what is such a personal, and intimate part of ourselves, and our teaching.

      It has made my day to think that my plan might be duplicated where you are. I’d be honoured and hope to hear more in the future about how its going! I promise you’ll find more about it from me on this blog.


  2. Sounds like you have a great plan. My 2cents, keep trying to meet the goal and experimenting eventually you will find a way that works best for you to keep the emotions aside for a bit. I feel like Anna when I read about your RP meetings, but I have no hope to start one here and this is another story. However when I read posts like yours it may be the same feeling as I was actually there in one (slightly perhaps or more likely gives me the idea what it is like to be there). Thanks so much for writing it and I do hope you share more and more with us in your blog. You guys is the closest I get to RP meeting so to speak. So I appreciate the opportunity. 🙂

    • Thanks Rose!

      I will most definitely keep working towards my goals. And when attained, I will make more!

      When I read you and Anna talking about our RP meeting I feel two emotions. Immense gratitude, for being able to be a part of such a wonderful group of challenging, questioning teachers.

      I also feel sadness that you and so many don’t have a community in which you may reflect. It makes me nervous when thinking about leaving this country! Hopefully, as technology advances, we will find a suitable technological format for which we can conduct RP meetings with whoever is interested, wherever they are on this big planet of ours! Until then, I will most certainly keep reporting on the questions and insights that the meetings here in Korea provide.


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