My Reflective Practice Mission Statement (RP1)

Reflections

I think teaching can be a life purpose, or calling. I don’t usually like ‘big words’ but at this point I am thinking about my reflective mission statement and therefore allow myself to use them. If teaching is a purpose, then ‘mission’ is something to do at a particular stage of life (or career) that brings someone closer to fulfilling this purpose.

How can one become a good teacher? To define ‘good’, let’s just simply use ‘helping students learn’ as a working definition here (apologies for being too simplistic!) How long does it take someone to become a real professional in any area? I really like the idea that it is about 10’000 hours of deliberate practice. Sounds like a lot of hours (on the one hand) but if you count the number of hours we teach a week, and then multiply it by the number of weeks in a term, then in a year, it is easy to see that we are already ‘doing’ many of those hours.

Does ‘deliberate practice’ involve reflection? In short, my answer is ‘yes’. I believe that good teachers are constantly learning from their own experiences: it can be through written notes on lesson plans, talking about the lessons with a colleague (or even a non-teaching friend or relative) or reading articles and books about teaching and learning, or writing a journal or a blog, etc. – in simple words, reflecting.

How do we measure if this reflection is ‘serious’ or ‘deliberate’ or ‘rigorous’? My own answer to this question is using the Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC) as a tool to make my own reflective process structured and consistent. I am not planning to go into details about what ELC means, because I believe many of you are either actively using it or have read/heard about it, and I also think that each of us perhaps has a (slightly?) different idea about using the Cycle for reflection. I need to say that I have been a very passionate ELC-user (or supporter) since 2006, when I first encountered how the Cycle can facilitate reflection and even feedback on a training course and in everyday learning of a teacher, and to which depth it can lead. I realized now that the ELC is my kind of ‘password’ into making connections with other colleagues, and even started to fear that I am limiting myself in this way and perhaps close my mind and eyes for other effective and helpful practices. So the RP question to explore this year would be this: Are there any other ways to reflect besides using the ELC?

I am saying this because I am finally approaching my Reflective Practice (RP) mission statement for 2014, which is a promise to myself to do the following:

explore and share the value of experiential learning and teaching as a means to continuous professional development and job satisfaction for both teachers and trainers and, ultimately, a successful language learning

I am going to do it by:

  1. articulating and sharing my own vision on the Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC)
  2. practicing written reflection on the lessons and training sessions I run in 2014 (in this blog, for example)
  3. learning from others on how they approach reflection (and this is how I hope to connect to the amazing reflective community of bloggers with whom I would like to share my gratitude below)
  • This blog post was inspired by John Pfordresher who started his RP Challenge and the brought together so many new perspectives on and about Reflection
  • Anna Losevawhose mission statement is loading and who reminded me that accepting a challenge does not mean following the rules (especially in the area of reflection where the ‘rules’ themselves are hard to define or work out)
  • Anne Hendlerwho was looking at mission statement in reflection and analyzed the parts of this concept and then created her own view on herself as a unique product, personally and professionally (well, this is how I read it and hope that it is accurate)
  • Josette LeBlanc, who meaningfully divided the RP mission statement and focus into 2 parts, herself and community, and made me think again of how important communication is in the process of reflection (at least for me as a teacher seeking improvement and ‘measure’ in helping my students) Thank you for the mention, too (and searching for the meaning of reflection together is definitely more fun than doing it alone!)
  • Hana Ticháwho helped me choose the actual verbs for writing out the mission itself (and gave a perspective that the mission statement can be modified, or crystalized in the future and even reduced to two words, for example!)
  • There were also several more RP statements recently which I still need to read in more depth, and they are written by: David Harbinson, Kevin SteinRose Bard and Roseli Serra

Thank you for reading and reflecting together, and I am looking forward to what this reflective year brings!

About Zhenya

teacher educator, evidence-based instruction trainer, PD Coach https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Reflective Practice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to My Reflective Practice Mission Statement (RP1)

  1. Dear Zhenya, thank you so much for sharing your mission statement with us. It is good to remember that teachers come from so many different perspectives and have different ways of approaching reflective practice.
    I look forward to reading your written reflections and hope to learn more from you about rigorous reflection.
    I am also interested in your question: “Are there any other ways to reflect besides using the ELC?” and I’m reminded that I need to approach the question without judgment of what’s better, but only evaluation of what works for me.
    Thank you also for mentioning my blog and being part of this community together.
    anne

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    • Zhenya says:

      Dear Anne, thank you so much for stopping to read and write in reply! I like how you said that the question about alternatives needs to be approached without juggement but only evaluation of what works for you, and I can say the same for myself as a teacher or trainer or a human being. I think that this objectivity is one of the most challenging parts in any area of life for me (and perhaps reflecting on this is a good ‘angle’ or ‘lens’ for using the Cycle? Thank you writing and making me think!
      Cheers!

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      • Josette says:

        Dear Zhenya,

        I was really excited when I read how you were questioning your use of the ELC because without explicitly saying it, I wrote my mission statement with a similar question in mind. However, the clarity with which you approach your question gives me a clearer lens of how I might be able to join you. By asking myself the questions you pose, I should be able to come to terms with the question that is calling out to me: is the ELC a reflective crutch and I am missing out on other ways, or is there a way of looking at the ELC in a way that haven’t had the chance to explore yet? I sense that all the elements of the ELC will always exist in my concept of reflection but I wonder if it could look different from the one I learned.

        Today I came upon the term “emergent model” vs a “linear model” in relation to a framework an “expert” (thanks for the 10,000hours article by the way) was talking about. I’m interested in looking at how perhaps I can take this approach rather than the linear approach I usually take when I use the ELC framework. I’m still not sure how I might do that.

        I am so excited about this idea of “what works for me” that Anne brings up. I think there is so much possibility for invention and innovation in relation to developing learning models. I am already envisioning a “what works for me in RP” mini video or a new blog series. 🙂

        Thank you for such a riveting exploration!

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        • Zhenya says:

          Josette, thank you for sharing that you are also thinking about the ELC and its use and joining me in this ‘what else’ question I have. This makes two of us. Your idea about ‘what works for me in RP” mini video or a new blog series sounds really cool. I would also like to think more about the “emergent model” vs a “linear model” – thank you for pointing this out and motivating me to learn! I do learn a lot from your comments!

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  2. Hana Tichá says:

    Hi Zhenya,
    Your post reminds me again that constant learning is a must for every educator. I thought I was familiar with most of the terms used in ELT but I honestly confess that I’ve never heard of ELC. I’m thinking of starting a separate journal where I would keep notes of all the new things I learn every day from all those wonderful professionals all over the world. No! I’d need 10 extra hours a day – I’ll just have to rely on my memory 🙂 Thanks for your inspiring post and good luck with your reflection.
    Hana

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  3. Zhenya says:

    Hi Hana, thank you very much fro visiting, reading and taking your time to write! Your comment reminded me that there is nothing obvious, and even if something seems to be ‘known’ it is often not so. I am still feeling excited about the idea to write about ELC and how I see it and use it, and I also wanted to share this link to Josette LeBlanc’s blog post from 2011, I think http://throwingbacktokens.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/is-the-reflective-process-a-new-concept-for-teachers/. There are only a couple of comments there but they are also insightful into the cycle. I like your idea about starting a notebook for learning via PLN (planning to do this week, thank you fro the idea!)
    Take care!

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  4. Hi Zhenya, it was great to read your post, and how you use the ELC to reflect. It’s not something that I have tried before, and to be honest, I don’t know all that much about it, but I often find having a guide, to measure progress, can be very helpful.

    Like Anne, I really liked the comment about asking yourself if there are other ways to reflect other than ELC, because one it highlights that we as teachers should always be looking to develop and adapt, and two that there is no ‘correct’ way to reflect on our teaching.

    I look forward to communicating with you more on our reflective practice journey.

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  5. Zhenya says:

    Hi David

    Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Yes, I like looking at things through the lens of ‘a’ way rather than ‘the’ way, so thank you for noticing it. I don’t believe in ‘correct’ ways either, only into ideas that work for someone and don’t necessarily help much to the others. I should say ELC has been super helpful to structure how I reflect and sharing it (as a part of RP mission 🙂 might be my own reflective challenge. I have started my draft and find it not so easy at all!

    I guess on big question I have at this point is about how everyone else reflects. Is is about asking questions? Asking and answering? Writing? Doing something else?

    Till soon on this ‘reflective train’! 🙂

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  6. Pingback: rpc2–statements and responses | Observing the Class

  7. haeundaelife says:

    Hi Zhenya,

    Thank you for adding your voice to our continuing discussion.

    I like how you talk about deliberate practice. I think that this is an essential part of quality reflective practice.

    Also, I 100% agree with how crucial the ELC is in reflectiving productively and with direction. I’m glad you brought it up here, and will certainly make sure to reference it (and how it can help us in our mission) in following challenges.

    Can’t wait to hear more from you and everyone else! We’ve got quite the exciting reflective blogging community underway here!

    John

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    • Zhenya says:

      Thank you for your comment John! As for ELC, I think it would be exciting to see how each of us (in the RP group and beyond) approaches it. I assume and expect that we do many things in implementing the cycle in a similar way, and that subtle differences that exist (if they do) might bring us new reflective insights!

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  8. Pingback: ELC, or the Art of Experiential Learning | Wednesday Seminars

  9. Pingback: RP Challenge 3: ELC Description | David Harbinson

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