Reflective Practice

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Flipping through a pile of handouts on the theries of learning, none seemed to offer a straight-jacked answer to the scenario that had occurred in the class that day. My mentor had been approached and rudely told off by a student that morning that all she does in the class is shout at the top of her voice and set the class in disarray. You can imagine how bad she felt. And I certainly did sympathise with her but at the same time, the incidence at hand gave me something to go home and really think about, and at the same time rained insight on the importance of reflective practice to the student teacher.

Boud, Keogh & Walker (1996p34 ) paint reflective practice in a light that was 100% relevant to me at that point in time, in the following words:

Reflection is a form of response of a learner to experience…Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. That I certainly did that day. Unlike the old English adage that states ‘let sleeping dogs lay, my mentor made mention of the episode time and again as I dare to say it certainly left her with a ‘scar’.

Here was a first hand experience, rather strange to me as I left the classroom over a decade ago in a completely different culture where students virtually fear their tutors (due to the barbaric power of the cane) only to hear a ‘Miss prim and proper virtually give her tutor a bad name.

The trend of events of that day certainly knocked out Boud, Keogh & Walker second opinion of reflective practice equally expressed on page 34 of the same book. This presents it … as a stage in the learning process which occures after substantial other activity has taken place, towards the latter part of a one semester course, for instance… My last three months in college have certainly made it clear to me that reflective is not some sort of last minute gimmics. There are real events, in a real world that call for real attention daily.

One of the good things of being assigned to a mentor for the duration of this teaching course is that one gains the opportunity of reflecting not only on one’s own practice but on the practice of the man or woman whose footsteps you are towing. Gray, Griffin and Nasta 2005p25) present a concise description of this: The professional is someone who is continuously developing his or her underpinning knowledge through reflection on their own and others’ practices.

Having once been a missionary with a reasonably good knowledge of the Bible at my finger tips, one word from my recent-past literacy domain that I would like to marry with Reflective Practice is the Biblical word ‘Selah’. This simply means ‘pause and meditate’. Reflective practive has helped me to do just this. Although, as earlier mentioned, there have been incidents in the classroom that have made it hard to do effectively just this. For instance, the case of a mentor who is emtionally rubbed up the wrong way by a student’s statement and harps on this for the next few week’s what do you get out of the process on meditating on this? The truth is that we are all just human, and this implies that there will be incidents that take place in the classroom that we cannot afford to speed too much time reflecting about or else they become a distraction. There are also a number of positve events that have also led to meaningful refective practice in the classroom, and certainly shaped my career development: here are a few:

Monday 20th November was an eventful day. The start of the college inspections for Sandwell College West Bromwich and Sandwell campuses so every lecturer was virtually on edge. No one wanted to get a grade 4 and be shown the back door so we had a collection of some of the finest lessons ever that week. The resources were simply superb and for a student teacher, like me, this was a period of thorough learning on the job.

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