Reflective Practice: The true value of "lived experience" and why we must first do then think.
Here I will talk about how to become a better teacher through reflective practice.
Reflective practice is the key between the dichotomy I drew between thinkers and doers, describing that you need to act in the world first before you think; and that there are different forms of knowledge that are produced in the world: one is derived from experience (reflective practice), but another (theory-based) is driven away from experience (body) towards the abstract and context-less (mind). These two different forms of knowledge (reflective practice vs theory-based) and the activities that produce that knowledge are in fact in competition with each other for legitimacy, gaining speed in recent times.
Reflective practice can also help you to overcome the limitations of instrumental progress because reflective practice is key in directing organic growth that is in more tune with naturalness of the world. Using organic growth as a source of progress in teaching and life takes a certain view of experience; or rather "lived experience", and the difference between instrumental progress and organic growth also relates to the dichotomy between 'researching about phenomena' and 'understanding phenomena'.
I will discuss reflective practice through the use of certain question that push at different parts of the concept so that we can view reflective practice through different angles, which helps us to move towards a more holistic view.
1. What is reflective practice?
Reflective practice is "the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning". Experience alone does not lead to learning but 'deliberative’ reflection (thinking about what, how, why using theories or personal insights) on experience is essential.
It can be like finding yourself replaying in your head the events of the day or an incident in your life.
For example, going through a conversation that happened to digest what has been said, thinking about sequences of events that led to a certain conclusion, or thinking about how your felt or reacted at a point in time.
It can be like a type of dialogue or conversation that captures your personal views and relates them to evidence you have collected from elsewhere. It can done not only in teaching, but also in health, fitness and life.
It is closely linked to the concept of learning from experience, in that you think about what you did, and what happened, and decide from that what you would do differently next time.
In essence, reflective practice is a learning tool (or rather an act of learning) that helps you synthesise, explain, make sense of and ultimately learn from your "lived" experiences.
2. When do you do reflective practice?
You can do reflective practice when you are writing in learning journals, such as blogging, building teaching portfolios, within tutorials or meeting with your mentor/tutor/co-teacher/other staff members, or during class breaks when you personally reflect on, or write about, what happened in the previous class.
3. How do you do reflective practice?
There are many models of how to do reflective practice.
Below are some examples to get you thinking about the ways people can do reflective practice.
Example 2 (Kolb):
4. What is the key skill being development when you are habitually do reflective practice?
The key to reflective practice is in the advancement of a person's "judgement" in life or their professional life. The progress in a person's skill in "judgement" is normally in years of experimenting with different approaches, incorporating different ideas from research, theory and practice, and constant critical reflection.
I think you can consider this a brainstorm session that should be used to expand your thinking and what possible sources of action you can take when trying to do reflective practice and thinking about your own "lived" experiences.
Instead of moving from theory to practice (attempting to produce in reality things that are supposedly "predicted" by academic theory -> they are not actually predicting anything, merely inferring from a sample to a population; or inferring from their sample data to things external to their sample [in this case there are many problems that can arise from how a researcher makes inferences from their data; which is pretty much never explicit and never talked about it in media reports, meaning you need to be critical in how you approach information that is presented to you]).
Anyway, in your professional life (or even in fitness) you should be doing first and then from reflecting upon that "lived" experience attempt to generalise some patterns or some principles (in the reflection process [that is, after you have done the action and are looking at what happened] you can use academic theories to push out your thinking into new areas or to produce some new questions or raise new possible answers why things might have happened the way they did). After that look at what you want to achieve (i.e. goals, like in example 19), plan out you next course of action based on your new thinking and the principles that you took out of your own personal "lived" experience (i.e. like examples 3, 5, 12, 18) and experiment in your next undertaking of action.
If you keep doing the same actions thinking that you should be achieving something (but actual are not), most likely you will keep getting the same results unless you change your actions. Sometimes people are afraid to change their actions away from the so-called theorists or gurus that say you should do so and so because of "insert whatever reason you want to", but yeah, sure try it out yourself, but if it doesn't work, then you gotta do something different, yeah?
That's the point: that you should go from practice to principles to planning to action (not really taking into account theory and what it says you should be doing);
and NOT looking at theories, seeing what they say you should be doing, attempting to do (or replicate) what the theories say you should do, and keep at the same action believing that something should happen when it actually isn't. This problem in theory being produced in action and not achieving the same results as what the theory says is about the inferences from the data, and what kind of data the researcher has used. Most of this about inferences and data isn't explicitly talked about in any kind of popular discourse and mostly found somewhere in the journal article that is locked behind a fee (if you aren't enrolled in some university somewhere) in some obscure academic resource somewhere.
Another key idea I want to look at is the notion of PLAY, or EXPERIMENTATION, or INNOVATION - that most hard question or personal question relating to your exact context can't be predicted/explained or answered by the theories or even what other people are doing and the results they are getting. What you have to do is experiment, play around with ideas in practice and implementation and build up your own personal and professional judgement in what kind of actions and things gets where you want to be and who you want to become.
Expect further parts about this topic shortly.
www.andysteachingstrategies.com - look here for refreshing teaching strategies and reflective practice.