Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Reflecting on reflecting

Adrift by Pascal B on Flickr 
As a chronic over-thinker with a natural inclination to scrutinize everything I do, you'd think I'd be looking forward to this 'thing', feeling that it's second nature to me.

Well no actually. I have many mental barriers that make me what to scribble over the words 'Reflective Practice' with a thick black pen. Firstly, thinking is tiring. No really, it is. And the idea that I need to do even more of it...no thanks. Secondly, why should I have to form my thoughts into a coherent pattern? I've been thinking for nearly 28 years so I feel well practiced - so why do I suddenly need a framework for thinking? Finally, there are so many elements to professional development now that require a portfolio, keeping a record, compiling evidence...and to extend this to even my thoughts and the intensely personal nature of it all seems like a level of commitment and depth I'm not sure I feel immediately comfortable with. 

But despite these objections, I also think I'm wrong on all three points! Here's why:

  • The ability to reflect critically on experiences can be an extremely powerful tool for keeping an open mind, trying new experiences and responding positively to peer-observation. 
  • A framework for thinking actually helps take the strain out of reflective practice - it provides a way of documenting your experiences in a manner that constantly moves you forward. 
  • Emptying your head in a productive way is much healthier than letting thoughts swirl around with no outlet!
  • Keeping a journal, or blog, or record of your reflection provides a basis for professional dialogue on interesting issues, and can also surprise you when your feelings or opinions change.
When I started in my post as a liaison librarian, I used a Pebblepad journal to keep tabs on my thoughts and feelings with regard to my teaching practice. I used to write down what I had done, what I felt went well and what could have been improved, and then try and incorporate some positive changes into my next teaching event. After a while I stopped because the process became quite automatic for me, and actually writing it down took time that I didn't have. Ironically, I'm now in a position where I'm trying to package up my teaching sessions into a coherent programme for embedding into a first year undergraduate program, and I'm wishing I'd kept a record of some of the reflections that led me to change and progress my sessions in the way that I did!

So I feel like I'm actually just starting out as a reflective practitioner, and have a lot of learning and practice to do, both in terms of theory and in terms of what works best for me. Recently I've found this presentation on The Teaching Librarian in Education by Claire McGuinness very inspiring. I hope that this blog will become a space where I can reflect on my work, interact with others and keep a record of my development...we shall see! 


  1. Thanks for the link to the Claire McGuinness presentation

    1. No problem :-)I found it a little daunting when I first looked through it, but it's so full of good, practical ideas of how to take your own practice forward, I suspect I'll be using it to create a framework for my own CPD for a good few years.