Sitting in on a presentation recently, the presenters shared the importance of reflection in practice, and how it is crucial to moving forward. I agreed 100% with this notion and had talked about the importance of reflection often in this space (my blog/portfolio). Having the opportunity to ask questions to the group, I asked them if they create time for the educators they serve to have time for reflection within their school day. They told me a few ways they were doing this, and I appreciated that not only said it was important, but they created time for it.
Here is the deal….If you really think something is important, you will make time for it. As an administrator, if you think something is important for the educators you serve, you will create time for it to happen.
Think about what professional learning is done during scheduled professional learning time, and then what initiatives are asked to be completed on “your own time” (after school, lunches, etc.). This will give you a great indication of what is deemed necessary in your school. If it is a priority, it gets done.
So why is creating reflection time within professional learning crucial?
I am asking you…why is this crucial?
You see, I have an answer, but I have an answer because of my own experience with reflection and making my own time to do it. And I am not talking about reflection through conversation with people at a table. That has its place. I am talking about sitting down and thinking or writing my thoughts out to help move forward with my practice.
I believe that reflection is so crucial to my learning that I do my best to embed it into my workshops that I lead. People are sometimes uncomfortable thinking and writing on their own, which is the point. The hope is that people experience the benefit, and then it trickles down into the classroom. We create what we experience, so that means we have to create new experiences in professional learning to change the experience in our classrooms.
Bruce Dixon, said the following statement that has always stuck with me:
In no other profession do we watch people do our job for a minimum of sixteen years before we do it ourselves.
Want proof that we recreate experiences in education and that they are handed down from generation to generation? Here is an example.
Have you ever said the term, “The bell doesn’t dismiss you; I dismiss you”? Maybe you haven’t said that, but have you heard it being stated? And if you have heard it, did you hear that phrase as a student, educator, or both? I guess that many educators that are reading this have witnessed this being stated (or something eerily similar) in their career, yet who made it up? This is a saying that has been passed down from generation to generation in education, which is proof that we carry on practices over time.
Handing down these experiences can be seen as a negative or a positive. If practices are passed down from generation to generation, what new practices that benefit students today will you implement that will become standard practice? Although I think it is important that we are flexible in our learning, I do believe that we need to revamp some practices in education and create new norms. The beautiful thing about teaching is that since we know we are creatures of experience, we can create new and better experiences in education that will impact generations moving forward.