It’s late and I’m tired. I wasn’t planning on blogging. However, a late evening glance through the old Facebook newsfeed highlighted a new post from THE Kevin Stein. His writing and energy invigorated me.
Correspondingly, I signed on to give a big thumbs up to Mr. Stein and saw a response to a previous comment from another great blogging friend of mine, Ann Loseva.
Ann has long exhibited interest in one of my teaching passions, reflection. She has a question that I have heard from a number of different teachers when I wax lyrical about the wonderfulness of reflective practice.
How do I start?
It’s a fantastic question. How does one start. We have experiences every day in class. It should be easy, shouldn’t it?
Anyone staring at that blank piece of paper will know that it is not.
I still struggle. I find excuses to get away from that overbearing blank page. I say I’ll do this or that and THEN get to my reflective journal. It’ll give me some more time to think I say to myself.
There is no THE best way to start. That’s the long, short and terrible answer to a great question.
You just need to write. Sit down, get rid of the distractions, and write what happened. Write your feelings. Write the nuts and bolts. Write the nitty gritty of what went down. Write how you felt before class. What did you eat for breakfast? Write “I don’t know what happened”. Do it your way. Just write.
Once those first words on the page come out you will find your path.
The feelings will come. The description will come. As will the analysis of what happened and at a minimum a somewhat, ever so slight vague idea of what needs to be addressed will dare to show itself.
The most important thing is that you write. Once time gets between you and the experience the picture becomes fuzzy.
Like with anything else, the more you do it the easier it will become.
One thing I could never do at the beginning was reread what I wrote. Ever. I would get so discouraged or disappointed in myself for how well I had written or how sloppy my hand writing was (honestly, I will find any and all faults to beat myself with, no matter how small or petty). I would become discouraged again and stop writing.
That’s just me though, maybe you are different.
(ADDENDUM- Write everything. No detail is too small. Be honest but don’t judge. Judgement is the quickest way to fail. Reflective practice is not about judging others, our students our ourselves. It is about improving what we do through thoroughly thinking about and analyzing the different factors that affect us, our students and our class. This is a rule that is all too easy to break. BE WARY. And if you fall down, don’t be afraid to admit your faults and pick yourself right back up again.)
In the end though, it’s the same for all of us. Just get those thoughts out however you can. Find a way to write what’s running through your head down on a piece of paper.
Once you do so you’ll be reflecting. From there on everyone must find their own way.
***PS, if your interested in working with a few other teachers and talking through everything you write down in your handy dandy journal, Josette Leblanc has a lovely write up on the framework of a reflective practice session.***