Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thing 5: Reflective Practice

Phew! Before you know it you're suddenly two things behind!
Reflective practice is something I've had to learn to do quickly. One of my 'less optional' modules for my MA had a reflective diary as a big chunk of the coursework. The idea of marking reflective entries to an externally written (and unknown to the student) specifications or criteria always struck me as odd. To me, the main function of reflection is to improve your own learning using whatever method is most convenient and natural to you. It's quite personal.

Section of Echo and Narcissus painting by John William 

You can reflect to prescribed criteria, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting the most out of a learning experience.  I think it's more important to be honestobjective and to be comfortable with your own ideas and thoughts than to do it to somebody else's idea of what appropriate reflective practice is.  For me, I've found that since setting up this blog, reflection happens pretty naturally- you want to write about your experiences, to share and record them, to learn from them and to use them in the future.

Attending the talk on reflection at CILIP's New Professionals Day was really helpful to me and made me realise the learning potential in reflection.  Rather than seeing it as something that I was required to do, I began to see it as something that I wanted to do, and something that was valuable to me.

The Thinker. Reflecting away...
I try to ask myself the questions:
  • What did I do?
  • Why did I do it?
  • What were the results? Both long and short term.
  • Would I do it again?
  • Would I recommend somebody else to do it?
 Consider your expectations of a learning experience. Did it live up to these? Did you take anything away from the experience?Reflect immediately after an event, and then a few weeks later. Have you been able to apply anything learned? If not, it may not have been that useful.

I  like to keep things simple, and three is a nice, easy, manageable number.  The Burton model (below) I find makes an excellent base model for reflection.  It's concise enough to give you room for wandering thoughts, but extensive enough for you to have covered your major reflective bases.

Learning something, going somewhere, doing something...all well and good on their own.  If you can work out why these experiences were beneficial, what you learned and how this might help you in your long term career or your job, then the value of that experience goes up enormously.
And I for one have a head like a sieve.  I find reflecting (blogging, Tweeting etc) makes me remember 1) that I actually attended/created/thought something and 2) That it was an experience/thing worth doing.

Otherwise I'd just forget everything.

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