Reflect on your practice,
During a district wide training for Project Based Learning I observed a team discuss the definition and meaning of reflection - as related to the essential design elements of PBL.
The image they chose to depict for REFLECTION: was a student standing on a box (to elevate to teachers height), with the teacher at their side, looking into a mirror. The student was central to the reflective image, with just a hint of the teacher at the side.
I've purposely omitted a photo of the actual drawing so that you can conjure up your own visual. (Forcing you to visualize? - yes I am :)
At the time and since that group interaction, I've been thinking more about the process of reflection than it's purpose. I trust that educators value the purpose even if not utilized as frequently as we would like.
No, I'm not comparing educators to teenage boys. I'm comparing the developing skills of reflection.
My youngest son Michael has garbage duty today - and I just watched him change out a bag of garbage, only to leave a crumpled up sheet of yellow, note paper on the floor (right next to the garbage can).
I have seen him exit the bathroom, with toothpaste in his ear - or looked over to him as I drop him off at school, as he realizes he has sleep in his eyes.To which I remind him, that self grooming should take place in the bathroom - preferably while looking into a mirror.With full transparency - I have arrived at work before missing an earring, or with foundation smeared on my chin without being fully blended.
We have all looked in the mirror - without really looking. Just like we have heard things, but not really listened.
To reflect, isn't to merely look at a situation or self. Here are some tips I have used for myself, and to guide others - in the skill of self reflection.
1) Look at the big picture first before you focus in on one single area: look at the whole. If you focus on one area alone, you forget that it doesn't work in isolation. Physical example: if the front of you looks fantastic and you walk out of a public restroom before a presentation or let's randomly choose a choir performance -with let's say your dress tucked into your pantyhose (definitely a hypothetical situation - ahem), then what's the point of using a mirror at all.
Reflection is not just about critiquing the parts of you that are visible to YOU - but it's turning around and getting a different perspective on the parts of you that are not as easy to access by yourself. Don't we all need help putting sunblock on the middle of our backs? Same point! Even self reflection is not possible without a second mirror (or trusted friend).
2) Focus in on the positive! When asked to list your strengths and weaknesses, there seems to be a preponderance of weaknesses. It's easy to pick out what you need to improve on, but it's not very natural for us to say "Yea, I'm really good at that". Oftentimes we wait for the affirmation to come from others. Well, what I have encouraged my friends to do - in a sincere way - is to look themselves in the eye in the mirror - and send yourself positive affirmations. I know this conjures up Stuart Smalley's skit from Saturday Night Love (Daily Affirmations), but the message is true. When you start to see the positive in yourself, and practice doing that - you continue to grow your own self confidence.
3) Don't over analyze! If I stared long enough into my highly magnified face mirror, and start poking and prodding every blemish, line and pore on my face~I would end up with overplucked eyebrows and marks that would make my skin look way worse than before.
Reflection isn't to critique to death.
It isn't to make you feel so defeated and unsuccessful. Again the purpose isn't being questioned. However if you get stuck in a cycle of reflection and never make goals or plans to move forward, then you've missed an important step.
Make plans - seek resources to help with the areas that you're focused to make changes on - and make the changes.