I read today, and was ultimately inspired by the thoughts of Barry Saide and Jasper Fox in their post “Reflect or Refract: Top 3 Tips for the Reflective Educator“. It’s another compelling piece of evidence that the best professional learning can be found from a small journey around Twitter. They sets up the binary between reflective and refractive educators. Primarily the difference being that reflectors are constantly looking at their own practice and refractors are always finding excuses.
Reflectors do not blame students for their inattentiveness or behavioral issues.
This is something I experience often, it is a challenge to dealing with students when deaning and when fingers are pointed it can be hard to discourage the conclusion that has been jumped to. A reflector will look at the actions that they can control, and determine what actions they can change or doing differently to affect more positive outcomes. I am really strong on this idea. One of my mantras is: “how could I have done this differently?” By considering alternatives – even when things go well – I believe it helps me to be more reflective and more critical of my practice.
When we ask refractive educators to reflect on things that occurred, their lens obscures how their involvement and approach were at fault.
This might be a bit over-simplistic, because I think refraction occurs on a spectrum. I’m sure, despite the fact I pride myself on being reflective, that many of my reactions to learning experiences might be seen as refractive. However, I do agree that there is a tendency of refractive educators to blame outside factors such as the students, their background, the school system, the government – whatever they can link to! It’s deficit thinking. Finding fault. No ownership.
The blogpost then asked: “How do we support our refractive peers in their growth toward reflection?” And suggested the following three actions:
- Embed Professional Development – had me dreaming for a world in which we could have one timetabled hour a week where we had a compulsory observation. My best PL always comes from seeing my colleagues in action.
- Write Regularly – There’s a shift to make between researching every way, which is a natural daily activity for any teacher, and “actively and openly reflect on those findings.” Writing regularly, blogging, can support that process.
- Engage in Community Conversation – participate in the online world, engage with other educators, get reading, get tweeting, get blogging.
A really great thought-provoking read here. My main take-aways: keep questioning, keep reflecting, keep ownership, continue to engage in online PL and write as often as I can.
Expertise in contemplation transcends content and passion, setting the stage for continuous improvement. Evaluating one’s practice allows educators of all levels to better serve students’ needs.