Teaching Opinion

Improve Your Practice With Daily Reflection

By Starr Sackstein — September 27, 2018 3 min read
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Being good has never been good enough, there is always room for growth.

As a classroom educator, the more I thought about my practice, the more I knew I had to try harder or maybe not harder, but smarter.

In the beginning, I truly didn’t know any better. Armed only with my own learning experiences, I learned by doing.

As a new leader, this was my experience as well. Only this time, I wasn’t brand new in education, I had 16 years of classroom experience. Which also meant I had 16 years of being led by a variety of people with both admirable qualities and those I knew I didn’t want to emulate.

This was all a process, a reflective process.

Although the decision to become a leader (when the actual time came) wasn’t laden with indecision, there were years before that moment when I toiled with the possibility, only to reject the notion that any place outside the classroom was right for me.

I simply love the classroom and working with high school students too much.

And I still do, but now I have a different vantage point. Now I get to see students in a variety of classrooms and not just for one year but through their learning careers. I get to have the best of both worlds.

For me, it’s about daily reflection for growth. The same way we think in terms of assessment for learning, having a purpose when we reflect helps us move in the direction we hope to move.

I start each year setting goals for the big picture and meet with my colleagues to keep myself accountable. Then I make smaller goals that help me achieve the big ones. The reflection is a daily (sometimes multiple times a day) practice/routine/experience that keeps me on my path to success.

Reflection happens in a plethora of ways:

  • I wake up thinking about the day and what happened yesterday and how I can build on the success of that day. Sometimes sleep helps to clear my mind and offer a fresh perspective. While I share some coffee time with my husband, we share our challenges and problem solve together.
  • While I ride our bike trainer, I try to clear my mind and be present in my exercise. I like to listen to fun podcasts or the news and often I connect what I listen to what is relevant in my current situation. These connections often spawn big ideas that evolve into blog posts or something I want to share with our team.
  • While I drive, I think about what has to happen today and how I can make the day positive. I set a plan in my head while I listen to podcasts or audiobooks that help point me in directions. If it isn’t audio books about leadership, it’s NPR where I can reflect on myself as a global citizen of this world and the part I can play in making the world a place I want to live.
  • When I get to work, I collaborate with colleagues in a variety of ways throughout the day. Sometimes it is walkthroughs, co-teaching or planning opportunities or conversations where we discuss challenges and offer solutions or just present what we struggle with as a means of being accountable and transparent.
  • Twitter is another place where I reflect and think about learning. When I need some inspiration or need of some help, I know I can go to Twitter and reach out to my PLN. Whether questioning or sharing ideas, I’m always pushing to improve.
  • At the end of days, I often like to blog about a big idea that arises during the course of the day. This is a ritualized practice for me. Although I know I have an audience, the purpose of my blogging is to reflect on my experiences and hopefully grow with my audience.
  • Before I go to bed at night, I also like to talk about different things so I can sleep soundly. If I don’t get what’s in my head out, I end up not being able to sleep because I fixate. But I know that about myself, so I either talk about it, right about it or walk. I’m not the best at sitting meditation yet, but maybe one day that will be helpful too.

After I do my reflection, I always make sure to make an action plan. It’s not enough to think about how things went or just to question, I have to try to change what I am doing for the better. This takes a deliberate effort and finding the right strategies to grow.

Reflection is a huge part of my educational diet and it has made me a better person, mother, and educator and now as a leader, I try to model and share reflective practices with the team I am a part of so we can all grow as together.

What is your reflection routine and how has it helped you grow? Please share

Image courtesy of author.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.