Most of the reflecting that we do on the job is done "in the heat of the moment" as we interact with students and other adults. This reflection-in-action heightens our awareness and helps us make dozens of daily decisions. Some practitioners call this "warm reflection," while examining an event after the fact is called "cool reflection."
Finding the time for cool reflection is one of the biggest obstacles to becoming a better facilitator and coach. Perhaps you can take advantage of a slower summer schedule to reflect back over the just-passed school year. What lessons did you learn that you will apply to next year? Have you re-read your journal recently to see how your practice has changed? When was the last time you added to your portfolio? Even baby steps will get you closer to your goal.
See the Dear Donna column for more reflection suggestions.
"Missed Cues: A Reflective Activity" is a quick protocol that can be used to introduce giving and receiving feedback, unpacking assumptions, or looking at student work. The protocol asks participants to respond to a short excerpt from the young adult novel "Pictures of Hollis Woods" by Patricia Reilly Giff. It can be used to encourage a reflective mindset. You may want to use this as a starting point to spark reflections about the school year. What other excerpts from literature might make good starting places for reflections about teaching and learning?
Dear Donna: I know that reflecting is an important tool for improving my practice, but I’m wondering how can I get better at reflecting? -DUSTY MIRROR
Dear Mirror: Practice, practice, practice! The more that you incorporate time for reflection into your professional life, the more effective you will become. Here are some possible steps to support reflection from "The Facilitator's Book of Questions" by David Allen and Tina Blythe:
1. Describe what happened, trying to refrain from judgment as much as possible.
2. Identify strengths and weaknesses.
3. Name questions. What questions do you have about your role and actions as a facilitator, a teacher, or administrator?
4. Identify next steps. How might you pursue your questions in order to develop responses to them. What things do you want to do differently next time?
If you have questions for Dear Donna, send them to CFGCoach@houstonaplus.org. Donna Reid is a Houston-based National CFG Facilitator and a consultant with Houston A+ Challenge.