Taking time to document and amplify reflections

As teachers we value our time. Our time is one of the things that is always limiting in our job. There is never enough time in our day. The list of things to do is ever growing. Some days it is hard to fit in going to the toilet or grabbing a coffee. But there is something that as educators we need to make time for

CC J.Bevans 2017

Reflection. Reflection is one of the most important things that we teach our students. We ask our students to reflect on their thinking and learning constantly. Here are a few questions that I ask my students almost daily:

  • What could you have done differently?
  • How has your thinking changed?
  • What have you learnt today?
  • What helped your learning?
  • What has got in the way of your learning today?
  • What are you proud of today?  

And so the same is true of reflection for teachers too. In fact it is so important that we model these reflective techniques for the benefit of our students.

As teachers we need to be reflecting on our teaching methods, new tools, our Units of Inquiry, making links to previous learning and thinking about What isn’t working like it should? Is there anything that is still taking up your time that no longer serves its purpose? (Aaron Hogan) 

That is a lot of reflecting! There are always things that we think we can do better at. But we also need to think about the things that have gone well in our classrooms or meeting rooms. After all…

“Without looking back, it is almost impossible to move forward.” George Couros

But reflection is hard. And so it something that we do not always find time for. Here are a few reasons why you should:

And reflection is not enough. We also need to share these reflections to a wider audience. We need to amplify our voice. We need to blog.

CC J.Bevans 2017

When you blog, you are accountable to yourself and others.  Others need to hear your voice.” George Couros

But how do we build it into our workflow?

Yes we are busy…But we manage to get school on time. We manage to be at class on time. We manage to go to meetings on time with colleagues or parents. So I think we should try to build it into our schedule. That is going to be my plan for the year ahead...I am going to try and use one period of my non-contact time to document, reflect and amplify my thinking. There I have written it down in this blog…so now I am accountable. I think it will benefit my students, myself, my colleagues and maybe some other people who read this blog.

If it is not scheduled then it won’t happen. It will be interesting to see when my to do list continues to grow will I still stick to my pledge? I certainly hope so. Why? Because I really do see the value of documenting and reflecting on my learning for the benefit of my students learning. Blogging is a vehicle to help amplify my thoughts to help develop my thinking and improve my practice.

How do we help our colleagues in starting and or continuing blogging? 

I think modelling, to our colleagues, that we value blogging as a tool to document and reflect upon our practice for the benefit of student learning. Making time, in our hectic schedules, to blog is a good use of time. It does impact student learning, it does give something back to our community of teachers ( both in our school and further afield) and it does move our thinking and understanding forward.

I understand some teachers may not be ready to amplify their reflections. It will still be important to make time to document and reflect. Unfortunately deadlines drive our schedules and time. But I do think scheduling time at the end of lesson or a day take 5 minutes to reflect on what has gone well or what can be improved is vital, for the benefits of student learning. Write your reflections in your planning book, write them in a reflections book, but document them somewhere. When you are ready share these reflections with a close colleague. Some one who you trust. Good people.

In my last post I wrote about the benefits of surrounding yourself with good people. One of the comments on that post was from Louisa who said that “We can absorb and benefit from their creativity and energy just through that proximity, whether literal or virtual.”

That is so true. After all…

“The most valuable resource that teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own experiences.” Robert John Meehan

CC J.Bevans 2017

Imagine what would happen to education if we all took time to document and amplify our reflections? 

How are you going to fit it in? Are you not going to fit it in?  Why do you blog? Why do you not blog? 

I would love to know you thoughts.

Join in the conversation.

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8 Responses

  1. Nora vermeulin says:

    Thank you Joel for making the time to blog and share your good practices. I’ll make the time to read your posts because it helps me reflect on my practices and encourage me to do the same: sharing and connecting with other educators. Good luck with your journey ahead.

  2. Joel Bevans says:

    Thanks Nora. It is hard to make time for reflection but it is such a vital part of what we do as educators. I am hoping that I can keep to my pledge of reflecting on a weekly basis and amplifying my thoughts.
    I am hoping that these reflections helps student learning, my learning and other educators too. So I am really grateful when you say that you will read my thoughts and reflections. It is much appreciated.
    Thanks, Joel

  3. Ellie Alchin says:

    Thanks for this post Joel. I am a new convert to the value of blogging. I’ll admit that I initially joined this team because I wanted to understand the process that I was going to be expecting my students to undertake. How could I ask them to reflect deeply and post in their portfolios if I did not. But I had assumed that because I am already a reflective person, constantly thinking about my craft as a teacher and discussing with colleagues, that I didn’t really have the time or the temperament to blog. I am an extroverted person and I have traditionally liked to reflect by talking with others not by thinking on my own. I found the first post REALLY challenging – it took me literally 5 hours to write something I wasn’t even proud of. But I have stuck with it and I have found I am developing new ways of thinking about my practice. Essentially, my reflection used to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to the lesson I had just had. Blogging forces me to think more deeply, make more explicit connections with professional training, conversations I have had and strategic goals of the school. I suspect that no one will read my blog most of the time but I have realised that this actually doesn’t matter because the act of writing has amplified my thinking and changed my practice in much more powerful ways. These outcomes are the things I can share with colleagues…

    • Joel Bevans says:

      Hi Ellie,
      Thanks for reading this post.
      Your comments really resonated with me as I reflect back on my journey with blogging.
      I too remember sitting there before my first blog wondering what I was going to write and why I was actually doing it. Pushing the publish button that first time is a really hard thing to do.
      I too also see the benefit of sharing my thoughts through a blog. Our reflections are deeper and do allow us to think about what we have done in the past but also into the future.
      Blogging is a great a way of recording these thoughts and amplifying it to a potential new audience ( or just for us!!)
      Thanks again for stopping by.
      All the best,
      Joel

  4. Hi Joel,

    “If it is not scheduled then it won’t happen.” I think one thing we can do better is consolidate meeting time–I’ve been toying with this idea for a few years now–what if one of the weekly months just once a month was given over to teacher reflection/blogging? What if we all aimed to shave ten minutes off of every meeting to conserve some reflective space?

    I think teacher reflection has so much to teach us–and can often do so much to build community and to enhance school culture, and it is a shame that often it doesn’t happen because it just isn’t given the time it needs.

    I think it gets left out of professional development too often as well. Something I’m building in intentionally to my Learning2 session this year is that reflection time as well as opportunities to amplify the learning through blogs with my participants. I’ll share what happens in November with you, and I’d love your feedback.

    Looking forward to reading what you continue to do in this space.
    Thanks again,
    Tricia

    • Joel Bevans says:

      Hi Tricia,
      Thanks for reading this post!
      I agree that teacher reflection is crucial to the culture and community of our schools developing. I love the idea of shaving time of every meeting to allow for reflective space. This would mean that we don’t feel under pressure and think about what has happened in the past, and how that is going to lead the way for the future.
      I have experienced this a few times on Professional Development and I think it is also a great use of time. This personal head space is crucial when thinking about applying new ideas into the setting. Blogging or reflecting to an audience makes the reflection trans-formative. I look forward to seeing and watching what happens at Learning2 in November. I would love to see the results.
      Thanks again.
      All the best,
      Joel

  5. Sarah Healey says:

    Hi Joel,

    Thank you for your insights into the relationship between blogging and reflection. I wish you all the best with your commitment to reflect and would love to hear how you progress with this. Currently, I am enjoying the blogging platform to collate my thoughts and finding that a once a month commitment is something I can effectively work towards but also that it keeps me focused throughout the month. I do wonder whether this commitment will increase as I become more at ease with the process.

    I also agree that reflection is a skill that we as teachers should model with our students and normally my reflections are scribbled on a page in my diary to come back to at some point….but as you said with deadlines etc, these ideas/reflections often get pushed aside. I think with blogging there is something special with committing your reflections beyond a scribble, and as you said it is amplifying them.

    Thanks again for reminding me why I trying to take time to begin blogging!

    Sarah

    • Joel Bevans says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Blogging is a great tool for reflection and sharing our thoughts with others (amplification). The one constant problem with this reflection is TIME. How do we fit this in? I think the only way to do this is by timetabling it in to our schedule. Having said that I am already late with one blog post and am struggling with finding the time to reflect and also to record these reflections. Perhaps I need to take something out of my schedule to make sure that I allow the proper time to reflect, and share my reflections with others. It is a learning process.
      The powerful element, as you mention, is the amplification of the reflection. Blogging is such a great tool for self-refection but blogging also allows others to make connections and share ideas – this is where it goes BIG.
      I will look forward to seeing your reflections throughout the year and learning from your reflections.
      All the best,
      Joel

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