Thursday, 16 November 2017

Mind Lab Week 17 - Reflecting on Reflecting

Activity 1: My Reflective Practice
Create a reflective entry in which you critically evaluate your reflective practice.

Photo by Timea Willemse 28 April 2016

Reflecting on Reflecting:
Reflective practise has always existed in some way, otherwise nothing would have changed, ever. The cool thing about the last 20 years though, has been that the practice of every day teachers has been shared more publicly with advancements in (and growing acceptance of) on-line sharing platforms. No longer is it the domain of the guru in your field, nor does it need to be a lonely introspection. Now, your thoughts can matter to someone too!

I have blogged for years, sometimes to reflect, sometimes to share ideas with others, sometimes to teach, well before it became fashionable. It is now timely to reflect more critically on my practice and share that aspect openly. Why? The benefits are huge. The number of people willing to jump in and support or share is exponential and collaboration can happen across borders (real or imagined).

This openness does frighten some people new to blogging. I too was apprehensive when I started many years ago. Yes there are nasties out there who miss the point of critiquing and jump straight to criticizing, just as there are nasties in your real life too. But that is few and far between. Teachers have connected from across New Zealand and the world. Some have even contacted me, spending time discussing their programmes, asking for support or visiting my room to observe my practice. My blog even helped me to get an interview with my current school. Basically it has replaced my CV.

This week, Mind Lab has provided some interesting resources to support a critical evaluation of one's reflective practice.
North Carolina Teacher Reflection Model - links closely with the Hull Uni video content. Sourced from:

Reading, Finlay's paper about Reflecting on reflective practise confirmed for me that here is an aspect of professional expectation that again gets reduced down to formulae and recipes, to ensure standardisation (sound familiar?). Reflection becomes shallow and rote, simply fulfilling a requirement for ongoing registration.

In fact, critical reflection as a concept, tool, etc. should be researched by individuals in order to gain a personal understanding and relevance, based on where they are at the time. Reflecting critically on one's practice is a purposeful and transformative exercise that improves your practice the more you do it (Hull Uni, Reflective Writing Video). And the more you do it, the better you get at reflecting critically and more deeply, relating it back to research and theory. It is a complex undertaking and varies based in situation, time, emotional connection, experience...I could go on...

So, just start doing it. Committing my experiences and thoughts to text can be cathartic and reduces ruminations which can often be destructive, when involving negative events. Seeing it in writing helps me to distance myself enough to look at it objectively and be open to solutions.
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model sourced from
Comparing my reflection practice against Zeichner and Liston’s (cited in Finlay, 2008, p.4) five levels of reflection, I would say that 
1) Rapid Reflection is a constant in my day. I teach students from Kindy to Year 6, all with widely divergent needs. If I wasn't aware of this every minute, it would lead to chaos. That is not to say its not exhausting, it is! and some days are better than others. But you get better at it and it becomes automatic. 
2) Repair is an easy one now in my current role as a specialist because not only do I need to respond to issues and repair when possible within the lesson, as I won't see that class again for another few days, but I can modify a planned lesson that has had hiccups with 1 class, before delivering it to the next class. For example, if the way that resources were distributed with class 1 caused a mob effect, I can alter that for the class following on from them. 
3) Reviewing happens when I make notes at the end of each lesson, including thoughts for that class' upcoming lessons, discussions with colleagues are almost daily around students, processes and management issues but not around curricula content.For that, I need to make an effort to visit other schools, or research on-line. I blog regularly when 'life' permits. I say 'life' because it is something that falls outside of work hours (as so much does for our profession). It is also often inspired by something I have seen or read on line or in my teaching day. 
4)Research is cyclic for me and based around what and how I wish to teach upcoming content and regular around practice at the moment due to being on this course. 
5) Re-theorising - I would say I have done this in the past through on-line PLN as new ideas have intrigued me. I am probably approaching the most radical one at the moment due to my research for the Mind Lab assignments as I move from teacher directed model of art lessons (with some limited choice) to more student directed art lessons, embracing the teachings of Choice-based learning and Teaching for Artistic Behaviour. My current mantra is - Teaching artists, not art!
Zeichner and Liston’s (cited in Finlay, 2008, p.4)
  1. "Rapid reflection - immediate, ongoing and automatic action by the teacher.
  2. Repair – in which a thoughtful teacher makes decisions to alter their behaviour in response to students’ cues.
  3. Review – when a teacher thinks about, discusses or writes about some element of their teaching.
  4. Research – when a teacher engages in more systematic and sustained thinking over time, perhaps by collecting data or reading research.
  5. Retheorizing and reformulating – the process by which a teacher critically examines their own practice and theories in the light of academic theories.”
In conclusion I'll sum up using images from my recent artistic explorations, into action art.

Read, watch, look up from your practice and be inspired by what is around you.

 Jump in and try things, have a go!

Sometimes it will turn into a mess and you'll think - what the heck have I started here!

But then...stop, reflect (critically as you grow and evolve), and try it again with a few tweaks.

Who knows, you may create something beautiful. But you'll never know unless you first try!

Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from
SkillsTeamHullUni. (2014, March 3). Reflective writing.[video file]. Retrieved from 

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,


  1. Great reflection. I will definitely read your blogs as you are so experienced in doing them.
    Hopefully by the end of this I will be able to do something half as good.

  2. Thank you Lara :), let us know when you have done yours and we can link up :)

  3. Reading your blog and seeing it's structure and tone has been very useful. It's evident I'm already benefiting from the collaborative, sharing nature of blogging just by observing how others blog - a community of learning. Thank you.

    1. So lovely to see you on here Rona. Thank you for your comments and be sure to pop back again. Would love to see how you are getting on too :)

  4. Reading your reflection,finding out about your teaching background and how you have evolved as a teacher was quite inspiring. I am not a blogger yet. But you definitely make it sound like a breeze. What I like in particular is the metaphor you used, comparing the process of reflecting through blogging to the process of creating a painting. Yes we just have to be ready for the transformation, external and internal. Thanks for your enlightenment.
    Karima Bencheikh

  5. Hi Karima, so lovely to read your comment. This is the reason that I screen comments on my post. To be honest, I have not yet received any unwelcome comments over the years that I have blogged but there have been the odd spam comments from untrusted sources that I needed to filter out. There are times when months go by without a post as teaching life gets hectic, but I love the thought of connecting with / helping / or even in some small way, inspiring others. Just as I have been inspired by those that went ahead of me. Please feel free to become a follower up on the right and stay in touch :)

  6. Thanks for your reply! I have just recently re-enrolled on the APC module which is the last module I need to complete, that’s probably why you could not locate me. Also I managed to fall behind with reflection so I am on catch up mode. Hope I get myself sorted by deadline. Keep upthe good work you are doing and I will keep on following you. Cheers. Karima!