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Becoming an Active Professional: Reflective Practice

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Graeme Nixon

on 22 October 2018

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Transcript of Becoming an Active Professional: Reflective Practice

Becoming an Active Professional: Reflective Practice
Graeme Nixon

Challenges to Reflection
Social, Cultural and Technological
The reflective professional?
Why Reflect
Some Tools for reflection
The Standard and Reflection
Lecture intentions:
To encourage you as student teachers to adopt Reflective Practice as a means of promoting and enhancing your professional development.
To explore barriers and enablers to professional reflection
To explore how you can be reflective in the contexts of your school experience and on campus
To encourage a reflective disposition

"the most successful education systems do more than seek to attain particular standards of competence and to achieve change through prescription. They invest in developing their teachers as reflective, accomplished and enquiring professionals who have the capacity to engage fully with the complexities of education and to be key actors in
shaping and leading educational change.

...teacher education must build throughout a career and go well beyond
recreating the best of past or even current practice. It must help to develop a teaching profession which, like other major professions, is not driven largely by external forces of change but which sees its members as prime agents in that change process. Within that culture, leadership qualities and skills are developed and practised throughout.

There is currently an over-emphasis on preparation for the first post and less focus upon the potential of the initial and early period of a teacher’s career to develop the values, skills and understandings which will provide the basis of career-long growth and in so doing create a broader and deeper leadership pool.

The review is seeking to develop a "professional who is highly proficient in the classroom and who is also reflective and enquiring not only about teaching and learning, but also about those wider issues which set the context for what should be taught and why".
What might reflection look like?
Reflection involves...
•Critical thinking about autobiographical experiences
•Analysis of assumptions through exploration of new perspectives (lenses)
•Engagement in critical discussion with colleagues and pupils about your practice
•Using literature and research as an aid to critical reflection
Reflection need not lead to explicit change in practice
“I had believed that the purity of my intentions as a teacher discounted and offset any unforeseen and unfortunate consequences that my teaching might have... My teaching was not necessarily bad or harmful, but it was problematic. By that I mean that it was shot through with unacknowledged agendas, unpredictable consequences and unrealized dimensions”. (Brookfield 1995 p.xi)
Naive teaching or unreflective teaching precludes full awareness of intentions and motives, misreads situations in the classroom and is incapable of self-criticism
Why be reflective? (Brookfield, with some of my own thoughts in brackets)

1.Leads to informed and thought out actions, recognising that our ideology exists and that teaching is inherently ideological.
2.It gives us a rationale for our practice – ‘informed commitment’ (a mutable touchstone). “We see ourselves in continual formation” (p43)
3.Provides a perspective that disempowers self-attacking tendencies and harmful sense of heroic responsibility (particular acute in times of recession and during ideological commitment to inclusion)
4.Provides a way of understanding what may appear to be a chaotic situation – arrests the emotional rollercoaster. Provides a sense of ideological and political context.
5.Enhances pedagogy if it is modeled or infused in the classroom (teacher as “passionate sceptic” – Myhill’s creative subversive?).
6.Increases democratic trust – reflective teachers allow space for public reflective moments
7.Transform us, our self-understanding and can lead to freedom from learned patterns of thinking, many of which are discriminatory (for example, in our attitudes to certain areas of knowledge).
8.Can lead to genuine ownership and understanding of teaching as the vocation for them (or not). Allowing teachers to find their own voice (develops rational autonomy).
9.Leads to critical and rounded reading of policy and theory.
10.Student teachers are usually educationally adept. This can be problematic for them in developing empathy for those who struggle with learning or even from fully understanding the learning process. Inputs on reflection and scaffolded new learning experiences are necessary.
11.Reflecting on theory breaks the cycle of familiarity and provides a sense of context
Developing Equanimity
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in
L. Cohen
Integrity: completeness; philosophical alignment and consistency between ideals and actions

Wisdom: the ability to make sound judgement based upon one's experiences (also commonly held beliefs?)

Principles of Democracy?

Constructive Criticality?
“It is necessary for each of us to arrange an order in our thinking… Without some such consecutive Philosophy, society will become a monster without a brain. It means full steam in the darkness with the lights out.” (G.K. Chesterton 1923)
An example: Sarah Palin's response to the Arizona shooting
"Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own" (Palin)
Schema: a mental structure of preconceived ideas, a system for organising and perceiving new information
Student teachers can be:
educationally adept
wanting to teach based on a powerful, positive role model
set on being a teacher from a young age
part of an educational 'dynasty'
Poor reflection is often:
superficial and tokenistic
undermined by poor induction
generalises from limited experience
enslaved to external requirements
For example,
Imagine 3 jars on a beach. Each of them can hold 17, 37 and 6 pints respectively. Can you measure out 8 pints?
Now for jars that contain 31, 61 and 4 pints, measure out 22 pints
Now for jars that measure 23, 49 and 3 pints, measure out 20 pints
Is there an easier way?
Now for jars that contain 31, 61 and 4 pints, measure out 22 pints
Now for jars that measure 23, 49 and 3 pints, measure out 20 pints
Guy Claxton, Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind (1997)
"more patient, less deliberate modes of mind are
particularly suited to making sense of situations that
are intricate, shadowy or ill-defined".

"our culture has come to ignore these and undervalue
them, to treat them as marginal or merely recreational
and in doing so has foreclosed an area of our
psychological resources that we need".
To blame?
Deep thinking is seen as inefficient and self-indulgent.
"a technopoly is a society in which technology is deified, meaning the culture seeks its authorisation in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology. It is characterised by a surplus of information generated by technology, which technological tools are in turn employed to cope with, in order to provide direction and purpose for society and individuals."
Technique and measurement are valued over complex judgement
"excessive stimulation impedes learning"
In groupthink society evaluation anxiety, social loafing and performance blocking are prevalent. Individual introspection is undervalued in the age of personality.
The power of 'priming'
We need to create conditions where the tortoise has a voice. "Simply by attending to the situation without thinking about it, people are able to extract complex patterns of useful information". (Claxton)
'Reflection' only based on rational, know-how knowledge can block the process of deep reflection.
'Did you make that song up?'
'Well, I sort of made it up,' said Pooh. 'It isn't brain but it comes to me sometimes.'
'Ah', said Rabbit, who never let things come to him, but always went and fetched them.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? (T.S Eliot, The Rock)
Siegal, R. D. Germer, C. K. Olendzki, A. Mindfulness: What is it and where did it come from?
In Didonna, F. (2009) The Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness, New York: Springer

Consensus definitions:

“self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby
allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment.”

“adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experience that is characterised by curiousity,
openness and acceptance.”

Bottery (1998) thinks that there should be a new threefold change in emphasis:
Cultural – the role of teacher should be redefined as consultant rather than expert;
Epistemological – teachers should not be seen as disseminators of truth but rather as facilitators of joint problem solving, and
Ethical – teachers should embrace uncertainty as opposed to certainty, both in their classroom and in terms of their own reflection on their professional values and development.

Schon (1987, 1991) argues that whereas traditionally professionals (including teachers) have been trusted to have “extraordinary knowledge in matters of great social importance” that there is now a crisis in confidence in professionals as a result of technology, the unintended consequences of professionals decisions/views, and the appearance of disparate recommendations from professionals. For Schon there is a loss of confidence; a growing sense of critique on claims to special knowledge, and claims that this knowledge is abused for their own interests.

Friere (1994) – rejection of the ‘banking approach’ to education.
Reflective practice consists of a communual and shared inquiry with situations, questions and issues, “a reflective conversation with the situation”. The practitioner or faciltator of the philosophical dialogue (as Lipman would describe it) should be trying to establish the limits of their expertise and to make explicit their tacit knowledge. In the reflective contract the professional (the teacher) is more accountable to the client, and more sensitive to their needs and background. When the teacher enters the reflective relationship they “give up the rewards of unquestioned authority, the freedom to practice without challenge to competence, the comfort of relative invulnerability, the gratifications of deference”
Langer's mindful teaching

For Langer (2000) learning based only on individual experience or without context and perspective is ‘mindless’.
Argument is inefficient, primitive and cruel – it involves making a case rather than
exploring an issue, limiting perspectives and judgement
De Bono blames the ‘Greek Gang of Three’ and medieval scholasticism for
the focus on argument rather than exploration. He thinks western civilisation will
stagnate without explicit thinking skills approaches.
Transactions and developing
self awareness
De Bono - hats
and perspectivity
The Mount Keen Epiphany
treats perception as unproblematic
see conscious processing as the only problem solving tool
sees solutions as more important than questions
ignores complexity and gravitates to binaries
privileges linear, visible processing
prefers purpose to playfulness
The RMPS zealot
The Mount Keen Epiphany
"l'existence précède l'essence!"
Working skillfully with our chimp
Not being hi-jacked by the 4 F's
The reflective cycle
1. Making Time for Solitary Reflection.
2. Keeping a reflective journal
3. Become a perpetual problem solver
4. Question the status quo
5. Slow down, self-reflect and reposition events
6. Examine your core beliefs
Full transcript