Reflective Practice: a Challenge to Generalize (RP5)

I was honored to write a guest post on John Pfordresher’s blog about a week ago. 

It ended with the Directions for the next RP Challenge: look back at the description and analysis you provided and formulate generalizations about learning, teaching, communication, (personal and professional) awareness, etc. Are you surprised to see the generalizations you wrote? Have you had them for a long time or are they the result of that particular experience you had?

Here you can find both my Description and Analysis

I will now draw some generalizations, or beliefs, from the analysis I did, and will use my own quotes for collecting ‘evidence’.


Staying as polite and friendly as possible while listening to the others’ point of view, no matter what feelings or thoughts are interfering, is important to me (and even more so, is a sign of being professional)

Quote: ‘My choice was to listen and acknowledge the information I heard as a trainer for that course, and to stay polite with the people I was communicating.’

Decisions do not always depend on the people I am in direct communication with (and therefore my communication or sharing feelings does not always impact the decisions)

Quote: ‘Why were they giving us that information so late? Probably because they had not had it earlier; probably because not being trainers or educators themselves and they did not know how important it was for us trainers to have as much info as possible about the course participants numbers, etc.’

Speaking in L2 (especially with different L1s) might bring an extra level of communication challenge.

Quote: Maybe the main reason was language proficiency (and therefore the person who could speak English could only talk to us that day and time)

Learning (about) the training course participants as early before a course as possible ensures increased learning opportunities.

Quote: Perhaps I was curious about such things as why they had to agree to do two courses at the same time (using the same vacation period) and what goals they had for their own development, and if they needed to be on the course, if they had any choice at all, and how ready they were for this challenge, etc.

Rules and codes of conduct on a training course need to be clear, transparent and fair to all its participants to maximize learning.

Quote: I sensed that the whole situation simply did not look fair to [the those participants who had not been planning to miss and had to do all the hard work during the two intensive weeks literally spending ’9am-9pm’ time in class/on campus working on this course]

Also, I believe that caring for successful educational projects means being aware of what a training course involves and facilitating all the communication channels to ensure that learning has time and space to happen.


I was re-reading the comments section after the Analysis post and found a couple more beliefs (shared directly or ‘hidden’ between the lines) They are….

  • as a trainer, I need to be clear about the decision-making policy and agents and about my limits to have impact (especially in a different culture)

  • informing all the parties involved about what is important for the efficient course flow and result is needed at any stage and with any staff member (better to ‘double check’ than ignore or forget something)

  • learning and self-educating about the culture where the training is held is never underestimated, and requires patience and openness, and readiness to experience something unexpected


Well, those are my beliefs based on the experience and some thoughts afterwards. I am wondering if they make sense to you, if you share similar views, or if you see something in a different way? I am looking forward to your thoughts and comments!

Also, don’t forget to check several more posts where our #RPPLN bloggers are sharing their generalizations:

Anne HendlerHana Ticha, and Kate Makaryeva with her complete ELC. 

Thank you for reading and learning 🙂

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
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11 Responses to Reflective Practice: a Challenge to Generalize (RP5)

  1. Dear Zhenya,
    Thank you for sharing your beliefs. They make sense to me based on the analysis of your description. I wonder if any of the beliefs that came out of this experience surprised you or were new for you?
    One thing I noticed is that several of your beliefs revolve around the theme of communication. I’m seeing a trend with other teachers and this topic as well and it makes me wonder whether it’s something I could give more thought to.
    Another thing I get out of this is the belief (or perhaps reminder) that we can’t control everything (“Decisions do not always depend on the people I am in direct communication with”). I guess when I read that I feel partly relief (with letting go) and partly frustration (with top-down communication). I wonder if that resonates with you.

    Thank you for helping me think more about my own beliefs through yours.


    • Zhenya says:

      Dear Anne,
      Thank you for your comment and questions! As always the inspiration to think deeper has been a wonderful challenge to me.

      You asked: I wonder if any of the beliefs that came out of this experience surprised you or were new for you? – Yes, after re-reading the beliefs I think this one surprises me ‘informing all the parties involved about what is important for the efficient course flow and result’ mostly for how ‘obvious’ it sounds. Obvious or not, I think it deserves more of my attention (‘candidate’ for the action plan in the future?)

      You said: ‘Thank you for helping me think more about my own beliefs through yours’ – I can say the very same thing to you now! Also, I discovered that combining or categorizing beliefs makes a lot of sense (and I found this surprisingly useful through our written exchange of posts!) You showed me that more than one belief is ‘around the theme of communication’. Not that it surprises me, but the clarity is really helpful at this point!

      What you said about decisions and being in control does resonate with me! Thank you for sharing, and I can feel relieved too. I wonder if there is anything to be done about it (to bring more clarity) or… about our attitude to it (to bring more patience?)

      Thank you, always.


  2. Hi Zhenya, I think I can relate to many of your generalisations. I think your first and second points could also go together in some situations. I know that having worked as both a teacher and a manager, sometimes the messages and decisions that you have to pass on are not very popular, but that it is not the messenger who made the decision. Being rude and unfriendly towards someone who is just doing their job is not helpful to anyone. Something that I regularly need to remind myself of.

    You also mention understanding the culture, which is something that Anne also touched upon in her post, and I think that this is something very important. I think that while learning about a culture is an excellent way to understand and avoid negative situations, perhaps it’s not always possible to do that. I’ve lived in Korea for 6 years, and still have a lot to learn. However, sometimes just understanding that cultures, and even different groups, are different is a good starting point. And then when something happens you can ask WHY before acting (I guess that’s the analysis).



    • Zhenya says:

      Hi David

      First of all, thank you for this reminder: ‘it is not the messenger who made the decision’. I sometimes forget to think or look at a situation through the eyes of other people, and remembering about the roles they have is a very useful idea.

      Your support about understanding culture (well, or not understanding it at times) is helpful to me. You spent much more time in Korea than I did (usually come and run two or three courses a year, all intensive and last about three-five weeks), and you are living there. You see much more. I think my own experience is ‘compressed’ to the very narrow field of training teachers. I agree that simply remembering about this difference already helps. Asking ‘why’ is another step – and I am taking it into ‘planning action’ stage of the Cycle, actually. Thank you for helping me reflect and learn!

      – Zhenya


  3. Hana Tichá says:

    Dear Zhenya,

    I like the way you drew the generalizations and beliefs from the preceding analysis. What I’ve noticed about your refection is that your generalizations are very specific, at least in comparison with my very general conclusions. This proves that we approached this stage in slightly different ways. I’m quite new to reflective practice and you’ve just shown me that I need to learn a lot to do it more effectively. I mean I know reflection is always valuable no matter how specific or vague it is but I realize I didn’t exploit its potential to the full yet.
    My favorite generalization of yours is this: “Staying as polite and friendly as possible while listening to the others’ point of view, no matter what feelings or thoughts are interfering, is important to me (and even more so, is a sign of being professional)”. This is what I struggle with in everyday communication and I agree it’s one of the vital aspects of professionalism. What is more, I observe how egoistic (and even ridiculous) it is to show your negative emotions. And how embarrassing it turns out when your inappropriate behavior later proves unjustified!
    Thanks for this post. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel for me because it clearly shows that reflection can lead to a better and richer life – professional and/or personal.



    • Zhenya says:

      Dear Hana

      Believe it or not, I look forward to your comments, and then spend some time thinking and taking notes before responding. Thank you so much for reading and writing to me!

      I like how you reflected on the refection process and what you said about the differences in the ways we approached the Generalization stage of the cycle. To me, a lot depends on the aspect where a generalization is made (for example, in yours I read ’emotion’ several times, and this is the area where it is much harder to be specific, I think)

      Agree about your idea that showing emotions, especially negative ones, can have consequences. Depending on a culture, sometimes serious ones. I definitely agree that this ‘belief exploration’ helps me on both professional and personal levels. I think this is one of the reasons our job is fantastic, actually! 🙂

      Thank you for thinking together!


  4. Josette says:

    Zhenya, first of all, what a gift it is to be able to enter your reflective mind via these posts. Having met you, and having spoken with you at great lengths about teaching, but never having been on a course with you, these posts feed my curiosity. I’ve heard so many positive reviews about your “trainer-mind” I’ll call it, and always wondered what it might look like. I realize this May sound strange, but please know it is said out of utmost professional respect.

    This post in particular has opened the lid to a new world for me. The way you went through each statement and dug deeper to articulate the underlying belief, really struck me. There’s something about seeing the bold letters and then the analysis comment underneath. It’s so simple, but there is something visually important for me here. In a sense, it is another layer of description. Can you see what I mean? I’m still not sure about this, but something is clicking here. It reminds me of the talks we’ve had about the non-linearity of the ELC.

    These days I’m in the position of making a hard professional decision. This post has given me a path to help making that decision less scary. Thank you.


    • Zhenya says:

      Josette, thank you for your words. I feel honored, and also flattered, about what you said regarding my ‘trainer mind’. What I am happy about is that in sharing something that feels so simple, at times obvious, I start to learn new perspectives, and rediscover things, and learn more. (hope that we work on the same course one day though! 🙂

      What you said about another layer of description is powerful: do you mean that when we look for some ‘evidence’ in the analysis part we sort of ‘describe’ what we analyzed? A kind of cycle in a cycle? Never thought about it. It is also a possible result of ‘cutting’ the cycle in our RPC and going through it bit by bit? Still, a really interesting idea to think more about!

      You mentioned a hard professional decision you had to make and that my post helped. I am glad to hear that. I am also hoping (planning?) to be using the cycle outside the classroom more than I currently do. (might sound weird, but I now see that I need to remind myself about this more often)

      Thank you for writing this comment, Josette (I needed it so much this morning!)


  5. springcait says:

    Since I’m not into this sphere I’d like just to express my feelings which were risen by your post. If I were in such a situation I’d get angry somewhere deep inside and just let it go trying to do my best as a trainer. But you’ve managed to analyse and come to such profound conclusions which I’m sure will give rise to future positive results and develop you and us. It is amazing and encouraging. Can’t wait for the action points!
    Thanks a lot!


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Kate
      Thank you for reading and sharing what you would do and how you would feel. When I read those lines, I felt better, as it seems to be a situation evoking those kinds of feelings. I also feel better after listing those conclusions (as if putting them ‘on paper = on the screen clarifies something) Still thinking about my action points though, thank you for your reminder!


  6. Pingback: rpc 6- action plan. one road ends, then next begins | Observing the Class

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