Self-reflection is a key piece to being a successful educator. I was excited when our assignment for this paper was to pick an individual reflection practice to implement over a few week period because from my past experiences, this has truly allowed to me see not only works really well with my instruction but it has also helped me see patterns and some kinks where I have room to improve. When I first began this assignment I took the suggestion to target my reflection around a piece of the Danielson Framework criteria. However, through the process of reflection my approach seemed to transform into something I did not expect. I kind of meshed Journaling and Dialogue together as my individual reflection practice to implement. I chose to mesh these two forms of reflection because I liked the free flowing questioning of dialogue and I also feel that I am able to learn a lot about myself as an educator when I am able to have a free write form and not be worried about writing technically for another person. As stated in chapter three, “Don’t evaluate or judge thoughts as they pour out. Just let them flow (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, Montie, 2006).” I have used journaling as a form of reflection before and reading back over my entries after a few weeks, I found that I was able to notice patterns that helped me identify areas that I needed growth. Initially, I was hoping to connect this assignment to 1a: Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy in the Danielson Framework because this is a section that I would like to see myself improve in. I began the implementation of this practice by getting a spiral journal and keeping it accessible as much as possible throughout my day. I did my best each day to write in the journal before school sharing my vision for the day and what my plan was for the day with my students. I would also designate a few minutes to journal while students were in specialist, at recess or lunch. Once the students left for the day, I would designate 10 minutes to a free write/open dialogue in my journal recapping the day. I shared everything from successes to lessons that I feel didn’t go well at all. I also noted my thoughts and feelings on the day as a whole. I would then use the journal at night for writing that fit more of the dialogue practice. I would spend evenings rereading the questions in the text and letting my answers flow onto paper.
After just one week of writing in the journal I started reading back over a few of the entries, by combining the two reflection practices, I was able to critically analyze areas for growth, I quickly noticed patterns in my journaling, I also noticed something missing, something that I feel, is extremely critical for a successful educator, the principle of intention. For our other class, Leadership in Education, we are currently reading a book called, Spirituality in Educational Leadership. This book is framed around eight spiritual dimensions of leadership. The first principle discussed is the Principle of Intention and it states, “Before you can have a plan, you’ve got to have an intention (Houston, Sokolow, 2008).” In my journaling each day before school, during school and directly after school I often found myself mentioning visions I had for performance in my students, but nowhere in my journaling did I note or mention my intention behind those visions and plans. I discovered that while answering a lot of the dialogue questions mentioned from the text at night like, “How do you want to contribute to the lives of children? What do you want students to learn from you and with you? (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, Montie, 2006).” it truly required me as an educator to think about my intentions. It forced me to answer the why behind a lot of what was missing in the journaling from during the day. By combining the two forms of reflection I was able to cue into a huge piece of what I feel was missing in helping me become more intentional in my practice.
One last piece that I noticed after looking back onto my journaling from each day in the classroom was that my journal because a great “dumping ground” if you will. It was a safe place for me to share my frustrations from the day. These frustrations varied from, lessons that went astray, to students who I felt I couldn’t reach for that day, to frustrations that were out of my control that were professional/ curriculum based. By using the journal as an outlet for dumping my those negative feelings, it allowed for a more positive interaction with my closest teammates during passing time when we would typically spend a few, but much needed, minutes to vent. After analyzing the outcome of this reflection experience, I feel it has had a very positive impact for not only myself, but my colleagues and my students as well. I am now able to spend my time with my colleagues focusing on positive improvements with the students and being a good role model professionally, but I am also starting each day looking at my overall intentions for the day.
In the future I would like to continue to keep a journal to allow me to reflect and note pieces of my day. Honestly, I am not sure I will be able to maintain the consistency of writing at least 4 times a day for 10 minutes like I have been the past three weeks. However, I feel that keeping record of my days and what worked well and what failed is a great thing to track over time. I am confident that even more ah-ha’s would surface from my teaching habits. In the mornings I will continue to not just look at my plan for the day, but what are my goals and intentions. A true look at why these are my goals and what I want to see come from these goals.
Houston, P., & Sokolow, S. (2008). Spirituality in educational leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
York-Barr, J., A. Sommers, W., S. Ghere, G., & Montie, J. (2006). Individual Reflective Practice. In Reflective Practice to Improve Schools: An Action Guide for Educators (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.