Monday 28 May 2012

Thing 5 - Reflective Practice

Water with reflection of colours
Reflection of Hope by ecotist on Flickr
Thing 5 already? Yes indeed! Thing 5 is Reflective Practice. As you’ve been working through ‘the things’ you may have learnt how to use some new tools or had a refresher on the tools that you use already. You may have been encouraged to restart abandoned blogs or join Twitter with a clearer understanding of your online presence and what you want people to know about you. You may have taken steps to get some more current awareness on the go by setting up some RSS feeds. Whatever you have got out of 23 things for professional development so far take a bit of time this week to reflect.

What is reflective practice?
This post is by no means an in depth piece defining and examining the theories of reflective practice, but more of an introduction to how to get going with it yourself. If you do want a more in depth look into reflective practice I’ve included some references at the end of post.
I see reflective practice as an important part of not only our professional, but personal development. It provides an opportunity to review the experiences we have, learning from them and applying what we have learnt.

How do I become a reflective practitioner?
Everyone will have their own style and preferred process of reflective practice, this is just one idea for you to consider based on the already existing models out there.
I’m all for simplicity so these models appeal to me most:

Greenaway 1995

Borton 1970

You’ll find a model that works for you, it might be that you adapt an already existing one like these examples.

I go through the following three steps when I’m embarking on a bit of reflective writing.

1. Recall it: this could be an event you’ve participated in, a project group you’ve been part of, a workshop you’ve delivered, an enquiry you’ve responded to…

2. Evaluate it: Take some time to consider these questions
What did you learn?
What did you enjoy?
What worked well?
What, if anything, went wrong?
What would you change?
What (potential) impact could this have in your workplace?

3. Apply it: Take some action. What can you practically apply from the experience you’ve had?

Tools for reflective practice
sewing tool box by levanah on Flickr
There are a variety of tools available to you for your reflective practice activities. Just as the process of reflective practice may vary from person to person, the tools used may also differ.

As you’re participating in the 23 things, Thing 1, a blog, is a perfect tool for communicating the evaluating part of the reflective practice process. Blogs are a great way to share your thoughts. The reason me and my colleague @sarahjison set up our blog (Librariansontheloose) was to give us a space to reflect on and evaluate when I was working towards CILIP chartership. Now I am chartered I'm in the habit of going through this reflective process and having the blog still remains a good way of doing that.There are of course more tools including drawing, audio-visual, podcasting.

Are there any difficulties in becoming a reflective practitioner?
Yes! The most common seems to be time. We all have busy lives, so being realistic about what you can reflect on is important. If you are able to factor it into your everyday work activities, great. If not, be selective.

Reflective writing can also be a challenge, but resources to address this are plentiful online. If you’re an information professional based in the UK keep an eye out for reflective writing workshops organised by the Career Development Group, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). If you’re based in another country see if your professional body organises any similar events or put it to your employer as an opportunity for your professional development.

Sometimes the most difficult part of being a successful reflective practitioner is the application of what you’ve learnt.

paper chain/ find a way to wear
the journal by SlipStreamJC on flickr
Why should I bother with reflective practice?Being a reflective practitioner does have its challenges, but it also has its rewards. Amongst other things being a reflective practitioner can…
  • Help you be more objective about experiences
  • Give you more control over your learning and development
  • Help you demonstrate you are active and responsive
  • Give you a better understanding of your work

So, there we go, a whistlestop introduction to reflective practice. Give it a try. Have a think about your approach to reflective practice. If you’ve any tips or resource to share, please do.

Want to know more? Try these…

Bolton, G (2001) Reflective Practice: writing and professional development, Paul Chapman.
Borton, T (1970) Reach, Touch, and Teach: Student Concerns and Process Education, McGraw-Hill.
Boud D, Keogh R and Walker D (1985) Reflection, Turning Experience into Learning, Routledge.
Schön, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner, How Professionals Think In Action, Basic Books.
Greenaway, R (1995) Powerful Learning Experiences in Management Learning and Development: A study of the experiences of managers attending residential development training courses at the Brathay Hall Trust (1988-9). The University of Lancaster, Centre for the Study of Management Learning.


A wonderful blog post from a 23 things participant, Elaine Andrew, about attending a reflective writing workshop. 
Random musings of a librarian, almost
Reflective writing workshop
Another fantastic blog post giving an insight into the difficulties of reflective practice from another 23 things participant!
Nataliafay. Librarian. Human.
Getting out of the reflective practice rut
This is from a teaching/education perspective, but still relevant to us as information professionals
Thoughts on learning processes and other musings
Understanding Reflective Practice 

A lovely introduction to reflective practice from Toby Adams
The Purpose of Reflective Practice
Another good introduction to reflective practice from Sarah Stewart
Journaling as a tool for reflective practice

*Images of reflective practice models

[Accessed 25/05/2012]
Borton (1970)
[Accessed 25/05/2012]

The images in the post are available for use from Flickr under the Creative Commons Licence.
Reflection of Hope - ecotist

Sewing tool box - levanah
paper chain/find a way to wear the journal - SlipStreamJC

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