One of the beauties of education is that we get the opportunity to try and explore new ideas. In fact, we are encouraged to think outside of
the box to discover new and improved ways to engage, inspire and
motivate students. Moreover, when we have new ideas and solutions to
problems, we are forcing ourselves to evaluate and assess our current
practices. A fancy word that all educators have heard (some so much it
makes them sick) is "reflection." At the risk of potentially sickening
more educators throughout the world, I would like to reemphasize the
importance of self-reflection by providing 5 helpful strategies as they
pertain to "reflection," and our unyielding pursuit of improving
1 - Ask yourself if your actions truly represent your beliefs and opinions...
The first step in self-reflection is to really evaluate and assess what
you are doing, and how you are doing it. Looking into the mirror and
being honest with yourself is crucial as you determine the consistency
of your beliefs and actions. Most people realize quite quickly that
they do very well with certain situations, while other situations are
definite weak spots that could use improvement. If we are saying one
thing, and doing something completely different, it is time to change
and align our actions with our beliefs.
2 - Accept the fact that what once worked perfectly, might not be the best approach for now...
As educators we are bombarded with new ideas and so called "silver
bullets" promising a quick fix to educational issues. With all of these
new ideas, it is easy to slide into a comfort zone to avoid the ever
terrible issue of "change." It is unavoidable, but we all get
comfortable with certain strategies and methods, and as the educational
setting evolves and changes, we have to be willing to update and modify
our approach to educating students. As hard as this may be, we can not
ignore that the students are different, and similarly we are different,
and as a result our approach and methodology must be different.
3 - Include others as you begin the self-reflection process. People
are very willing to help when you ask for their advice and assistance...
It is human nature to be somewhat biased toward your own strengths and
weaknesses, and because of this it is extremely important to obtain
assistance from others as you move closer to self-reflection. The best
thing about recruiting others to help you in your endeavor is that most
people will give you honest advice and feedback since they know they are
an integral part of your self-improvement. Additionally, there are
things other people see and notice about you that provide insight into
who you really are as an educator.
4 - You are like a "living document," and as such you should be in a constant state of change...
Rethink, reinvent, reinvigorate, redevelop, redeploy, renew, reemphasize
and any other word that prevents you from being an educator that is
stationary. Just as kids are continually changing and evolving, we as
educators need to remain flexible and adaptable.
5 - Remember that self-reflection is an essential piece to growing and developing as an educator...
Almost everything we do in education requires an evaluation along
with reflection. A new program, a new idea, a tweaking of an
assessment, and any other piece of education we use to help students
should be subject to reflection and evaluation. There is no greater
tool than sitting down and thinking about what happened, why it
happened, and how we can make it better and improve upon it for the next
time. Sharing and collaborating through self-reflection will continue
to be one of the most important resources for educators, and with the
advancements in technology and communicative tools, the process just got
a lot easier!
Utilize these 5 helpful strategies as you continue your path toward
growth and development, and please remember that when you think you have
it mastered, perfected, or you just feel really comfortable, it is time
to self-reflect and evaluate your current practices. Help to share
these strategies as we all need a little push and encouragement from
time to time.