We are reflective practitioners

Friday 5 January 2018

Happy Western New Year!

A new year and a time for reflection

For many a new year marks a new start, a reminder to look back over the previous year and make new resolutions for the new one that is beginning.

My 12 year-old daughter has reminded me of this over the past few days as she has gone in search of a 'bullet journal' - described by producers of them as "the analog system for the digital age - bullet journaling lives at the intersection  between mindfulness and productivity". A bullet journal, in the hands of some, may be little more than a way of organizing your thoughts and diary using bullet points as the core structure. However, this marketing blurb is not a bad description of what we mean by reflection, a concept at the core of all IB programmes.

Reflection in the IB Diploma Programme

The Diploma Programme is more that a rigorous pre-university programme of study.  It is about holistically developing each student to be the best that they can be. The IB Learner Profile describes the attributes of what this looks like. Being reflective is one of the IB Learner Profile attributes. It is defined in the following way: "We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development." (IB Learner Profile). It is important for staff to (a) make time for students to reflect, and (b) model what it means to reflect and to learn from experiences.

Reflection is at the heart of the DP Core.

  • Theory of Knowledge: Critical reflection about what we know and how we know it in the different areas of knowledge, and especially those we are studying in our subject groups.
  • Creativity, Activity, Service: Affective reflection looks at what students feel as a result of their experience. How has this experience changed their attitudes or opinions or sensitivities?
  • Extended Essay: Process reflection considers what students learn from the process of academically researching and writing the extended essay itself.“Student reflection in the extended essay is a critical evaluation of the decision-making process. It demonstrates the evolution and discovery of conceptual understandings as they relate to the research question and sources.” (EE Guide page 42)

Teachers as reflective practitioners

The IB Learner Profile is as relevant to us as teachers as to the students we teach. We are also called to live out these attributes because we are committed to life-long learning.

Each year I start a new journal - actually it is more of a fancy scrap book.  It's a way of recording and reflecting on my own learning and it includes notes of meetings in schools, plans for workshops, but also postcards of places I visit and scribbled on menus of meals I have eaten. It is a way of capturing something of what I am experiencing.

During the past year two particular instances of reflection stand out for me in relation to the differentiated ways in which we as teachers work. The first was when I was leading a three day workshop in a school in Saudi Arabia. One of the teachers focused by taking doodling notes in his book - a fantastic way of organizing ideas to reflect on. The second was during an in-school workshop I was facilitating in Oslo. One of the teachers arrived and proceeded to take out her knitting and continued to knit throughout the whole workshop only stopping to make incisive and thoughtful contributions to the discussions. These two occasions reminded me that as teachers we also work and reflect in differentiated ways.

The IB DP CAS Guide (page 29) contains the following useful table summarizing what reflection is and is not.

Tags: reflection


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