Activity 3 – Reflections on ‘Reflective Practice’

What are the points in this article that captivate my attention?

Certainly I believe that reflective practice both ‘rings true’ and is a part of the process of life-long learning. As I stated in my second entry – part one, my own reflective practice, since I have been a part of this course, has been one of the most profound aspects on my learning. I found it interesting that, according to Finlay, reflective practice involves both the process of learning through and from experience (to gain new insights) and the individual practitioner being self-aware and critically evaluating their own responses to practice situations. I found this second aspect very similar to metacognition, but also consider it equally important to engage in critical dialogue and reflection with other practitioners.

This links with Schon’s (1983) identification of two types of reflection: reflection-in-action, thinking about things while you are doing them and  reflection-on-action, thinking about things after the event. I felt that these two aspects were brought together quite well by reflexivity. Reflexive practitioners engage in both critical self-reflection: reflecting critically on the impact of their own background, assumptions, feelings, and behaviour while also attending to the impact of the wider organisational, ideological and political context (pg 6).

I do agree with Grushka, Hinde-McLeod and Reynolds (2005) addition of reflection for action as their series of technical, practical and critical questions (pg 4) seem aligned with the way I plan. I consider my resources and how long the lesson will take (technical and organised); how I can make the resources suit different learning styles (practical and personalised); and I question why I am teaching a particular topic (critical and relevant).

Perhaps the points that I found the most captivating were both the amount of work involved in all this reflection and the fact that much of it is forced!

“For busy professionals short on time, reflective practice is all too easily applied in bland, mechanical, unthinking ways. Would-be practitioners may also find it testing to stand back from painful experiences and seek to be analytical about them” (pg 1-2)

“Moreover, busy, over-stretched professionals are likely to find reflective practice taxing and difficult.” (pg 10)

“Reflection can have a profound emotional impact on the person reflecting and therefore has the potential to be harmful.” (pg 11)

“When required of individuals through learning and assessment exercises,
reflections can end up being superficial, strategic and guarded. Where assessment lurks, any genuine, honest, critical self-examination may well be discouraged.”    (pg 15)

“The problem with reflective practice is that it is hard to do and equally hard to teach. It is even harder to do and teach effectively.” (pg 15)

Certainly many of the students in my class, who are asked to reflect on their term goals set up on KnowledgeNET, would relate to Boud and Walker (1998) comparing their reflections to “…checklists which students work through in a mechanical fashion without regard to their own uncertainties, questions and meanings” (pg 10) and  “…ritualised, without reference to context or outcomes.”  (pg 11)

Luckily the article went on to suggest excellent ways to remedy these problems!

What reflective model do I find most suitable to use?

In our school the Teaching as Inquiry (TAI) we undertake is similar Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (1988) (pg8) but also utilising one of Finlay’s five overlapping variants of reflexivity (pg 6-7). Mutual collaboration, is a participatory, dialogical approach to reflective practice – what Ghaye (2000) (and my team leader) call ‘reflective conversations’. Members of our professional learning team, seek to solve problems critically and collaboratively as illustrated by the model below.

My Teaching as Inquiry Process

As Finlay so succinctly says  “It seems neither possible nor desirable to fix on any one model as the definitive ‘answer’. Different models are needed, at different levels, for different individuals, disciplines and organisations, to use in different contexts.” (pg 10)

Certainly education is likely to benefit from the stimulus provided by competing perspectives and multiple models so long as the models are applied selectively, purposefully and flexibly.

References

Finlay, L. (2009) Reflecting on ‘Reflective practice’. Open University, Practice-Based Professional Learning Centre. Retrieved October 6, 2015 from http://www.open.ac.uk/opencetl/files/opencetl/file/ecms/web-content/Finlay-%282008%29-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf

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