5 helpful strategies for self-reflection

5 helpful strategies for self-reflection

by Justin Tarte

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 education.

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 a ‘static’ educator.  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 communication tools, the process is getting a lot easier!

Remember, when you think you have it mastered, perfected, or you just feel really comfortable, it is time to self-reflect and time to evaluate your current practices.
The great educators and the great minds of the future will be those who get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Similarly, the great educators and the great minds of the future will be those who plan and act with purpose, rather than simply acting out of necessity…

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