Improve Your Practice With Daily Reflection
As a classroom educator, the more I thought about my practice, the more I knew I had to try harder or maybe not harder, but smarter.
In the beginning, I truly didn't know any better. Armed only with my own learning experiences, I learned by doing.
As a new leader, this was my experience as well. Only this time, I wasn't brand new in education, I had 16 years of classroom experience. Which also meant I had 16 years of being led by a variety of people with both admirable qualities and those I knew I didn't want to emulate.
This was all a process, a reflective process.
Although the decision to become a leader (when the actual time came) wasn't laden with indecision, there were years before that moment when I toiled with the possibility, only to reject the notion that any place outside the classroom was right for me.
I simply love the classroom and working with high school students too much.
And I still do, but now I have a different vantage point. Now I get to see students in a variety of classrooms and not just for one year but through their learning careers. I get to have the best of both worlds.
For me, it's about daily reflection for growth. The same way we think in terms of assessment for learning, having a purpose when we reflect helps us move in the direction we hope to move.
I start each year setting goals for the big picture and meet with my colleagues to keep myself accountable. Then I make smaller goals that help me achieve the big ones. The reflection is a daily (sometimes multiple times a day) practice/routine/experience that keeps me on my path to success.
Reflection happens in a plethora of ways:
- I wake up thinking about the day and what happened yesterday and how I can build on the success of that day. Sometimes sleep helps to clear my mind and offer a fresh perspective. While I share some coffee time with my husband, we share our challenges and problem solve together.
- While I ride our bike trainer, I try to clear my mind and be present in my exercise. I like to listen to fun podcasts or the news and often I connect what I listen to what is relevant in my current situation. These connections often spawn big ideas that evolve into blog posts or something I want to share with our team.
- While I drive, I think about what has to happen today and how I can make the day positive. I set a plan in my head while I listen to podcasts or audiobooks that help point me in directions. If it isn't audio books about leadership, it's NPR where I can reflect on myself as a global citizen of this world and the part I can play in making the world a place I want to live.
- When I get to work, I collaborate with colleagues in a variety of ways throughout the day. Sometimes it is walkthroughs, co-teaching or planning opportunities or conversations where we discuss challenges and offer solutions or just present what we struggle with as a means of being accountable and transparent.
- Twitter is another place where I reflect and think about learning. When I need some inspiration or need of some help, I know I can go to Twitter and reach out to my PLN. Whether questioning or sharing ideas, I'm always pushing to improve.
- At the end of days, I often like to blog about a big idea that arises during the course of the day. This is a ritualized practice for me. Although I know I have an audience, the purpose of my blogging is to reflect on my experiences and hopefully grow with my audience.
- Before I go to bed at night, I also like to talk about different things so I can sleep soundly. If I don't get what's in my head out, I end up not being able to sleep because I fixate. But I know that about myself, so I either talk about it, right about it or walk. I'm not the best at sitting meditation yet, but maybe one day that will be helpful too.
After I do my reflection, I always make sure to make an action plan. It's not enough to think about how things went or just to question, I have to try to change what I am doing for the better. This takes a deliberate effort and finding the right strategies to grow.
Reflection is a huge part of my educational diet and it has made me a better person, mother, and educator and now as a leader, I try to model and share reflective practices with the team I am a part of so we can all grow as together.
What is your reflection routine and how has it helped you grow? Please share