Do you have a structured process for personal reflection? If you are an educator or simply want to be successful at work, you might be missing out. We all naturally reflect on the past to some degree but unless a process is in place our effectiveness on the job will be at best stagnate or production might even diminish. As a principal, I encourage teachers to reflect through common planning discussions (using an agenda), blogging or using social media. All are great tools and help us learn through a reflection process.
As all educators review end of year data (EOCT) to determine progress, we sometimes fail to see this as lagging data or after the fact. When teachers meet weekly to review strategies and assessment results, teachers can respond immediately to meet the needs of students. I can’t remember where I heard it but one compared this to a physician diagnosing symptoms to heal a patient which is obviously better than not treating the patient thus waiting until the autopsy to determine death. Adjusting instruction to meet the needs of students is the doctor/teacher I want teaching my students. The equivalent to death in this comparison is a student not learning or failure. When teachers make a commitment to sit down with colleagues using an agenda to guide weekly discussions, they will have the opportunity to help each other improve. Improvement means having the opportunity to help all students learn.
Writing or blogging is also a great way to reflect. When using this process, we are forced to think deeply about and analyze specific events or information. Reviewing decisions made the previous week along with results helps us determine what worked or did not work so instructional adjustments can be made. As I am typing this blog, I am thinking how I can improve my reflection process so I can improve my leadership skills!
Using social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter are two great tools to network with fellow educators. As part of the networking process or sharing of ideas, I learn from others every day. When I learn an idea from someone, I instantly compare the idea and/or strategy to my situation or school. This constant process helps me reflect on our practices to know if anything out there is better and if what we are doing is meeting the needs of our students and staff. I can honestly say I have learned quite a bit the last few years using twitter! My next goal with twitter is to start participating in conversations occurring in Georgia and across the country. Even though I am not interacting or contributing to these conversations, I read the comments and learn.
So, are you leveraging the power of reflection? If not, I highly recommend it! With technology we have tools at our finger tips making it very convenient to reflect and share our work with others.