Jan 06, 2012 The Reflective Educator Part Three: Personal Planning and Reflection
My last two posts have focused on the importance of practicing what many of us “preach” to our students and clients – the art of reflection. Taking time for self-reflection is key to developing your skills and improving your effectiveness and personal satisfaction in your work as an educator/counselor/ trainer.
Wednesday’s post offered questions that you might use to reflect upon your day to day work with students or clients to improve outcomes and better communicate the effectiveness of your programs.
It also important to take time to reflect on the “bigger picture” of your practice as an educator including your personal and professional goals, accomplishments, and next steps. This kind of self-reflection not only helps you improve your work, it can also make it more meaningful and rewarding. Reflection on why you do what you do and the successes and opportunities that have arisen along the way helps increase your focus and sense of purpose.
Many of us in the education field had time over the past weeks of break for some reflection and planning. The last week of the year is traditionally a time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year and the goals and opportunities arising from the start of the new. Too often the plans and goals set during this time get lost with the return to the demands of the day-to-day bustle that January brings.
The key is to make regular time for this practice, even if it is just a short time each day, or a longer period each week. For me, the early morning hours, when the house is quiet, before the phone starts to ring or before I have to think about my first appointment is the ideal time. I have found the clarity and focus I can achieve during the solitude of this time of day is well worth getting out of bed earlier.
Regardless of the time of day that works best for you take a stab at carving out a regular quiet time to reflect on questions and prompts such as:
- Why do you do what do? What drew you to your work as an educator? Why do you keep doing it?
- What brings you joy in your work?
- Think of a personal success or achievement you have made over the past year, the past week, or the past month. What made this a success? How did you do it?
- Identify a professional success or achievement you have made over the past year, the past week or the past month. What made this a success? How did you do it?
- What is a “success story” with a student that you would share with a friend or colleague? What does success mean to you? To your students or clients?
- How do you describe the purpose of your work?
- Reflect on a strength you bring to your work. How do you “maintain” or capitalize on that strength?
- When are you most effective in your practice of facilitation or teaching? What are the components of a great day of teaching or training?
- What is personal challenge for you right now?
- What is a professional challenge for you right now?
- What have you done to face these challenges? What will you continue to do?
- What will you do differently in the next month? Who can you call upon for support if you need it?
- What is lasting lesson from your experiences as an educator this month? What will you need to continually remind yourself of?
- How can you share your learning with someone else?
- What professional development opportunities do you want or need to seek out in the near future? How and when will you do it?
- Who can you collaborate with to improve your work and your enjoyment of work?
- What is a commitment you will make to yourself this week? This month?
Consciously carving out time in your schedule to reflect on your professional practice including your reflection on student’s growth, successes and needs, the effectiveness of the methods and strategies you use, as well as your own strengths, needs and goals helps you make better decisions. Self-reflection and communication with other educators about your work helps you develop a clearer purpose, meaning and fulfillment in your practice as an educator.
Hopefully some of the ideas offered in the last three posts will inspire you to take the time to take a breath, find a peaceful place, a moment of stillness, and become a more reflective practitioner.
Please share your thoughts on this subject or additional questions and strategies for the self-reflective educator.