Reflective writing is meaningful and authentic writing. The following questions can be used as prompts to support a deeper level of writing and inquiry:
Questions to promote authentic reflection.
- Am I prepared to endure discomfort?
- Am I willing to challenge taken-for-granted (even cherished) assumptions and beliefs?
- Am I willing to begin to ‘describe’ and ‘theorise’ about what is going on here?
- What, then, is actually going on here?
- How do I know what is happening here?
- What else do I need to know about what is going on?
- Who says this is the way things should happen?
- How did things come to be the way they are?
- Whose interests are served by having things this way?
- Why do I teach this way?
- Whose interests are served in these circumstances?
- Whose interests are silenced or denied?
- What are the impediments to change?
- How might I work differently?
- What kind of resistance might I expect?
- How do I intend to tackle that?
- How can I create different social relationships in my classroom/centre? (and in the school/centre at large?)
- What hierarchies (authority, gender, race, class etc.) exist around me?
- Schools (centres) are never neutral value-free sites – whose politics are served?
- What is educationally worthwhile fighting for here?
from: Smyth, J. (1993). Reflective practice in teacher education and other professions. Keynote address to Fifth national Practicum Conference, McQuarie University, Sydney, 4 February 1993.
Critical reflection Model 1: DATA Model
- Describe an incident or common practice that represents some critical aspect of your work
- the context (where, when, who, how, what)
- the teaching and learning – what you want children to learn, how you provide opportunities for this learning, how you know what they are learning, questions about the value of what they are learning.
- How you feel and why
- Why you think what you think
- consider why this aspect of practice operates as it does
- consider how your own values and assumptions support it to uncover values, beliefs, rules and motives that form the basis of your practice
- the perspectives of others may help clarify your views
- look at alternative ways of approaching your practice by taking the theory you uncovered at the analysis stage and deriving new theory from it or attaching it to a different theory
- eg consider practice from point of view of – a child who is new to setting – a child who has been there a long time – child going to school soon – other educators – people who see ECE as helping children into school – free play supporters etc
- relate findings to other information
Critical reflection Model 2: Four Critically Reflective Lenses (Brookfield’s model)
- consider how you coped when learning a new skill or practice and what your emotions were during the process
- considering your autobiography as a learner helps you consider your autobiography as a teacher – to identify preferred styles and methods and underlying assumptions
- why do you feel as you do? Why do you hold these values?
- often you will achieve this perspective by recording those incidental comments made by children
- with older children you might ask them about it
- consider their reactions / responses
- discussions with colleagues help discover interpretations that fit what is happening in your own practice – or view the question/situation in a new way…
THEORETICAL LITERATURE: …
Critical Reflection Model 3: Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory – the context of reflection
(ecological theory of development – in which context and environment have a significant role in learning and development)
LEVEL 1 OF REFLECTION: reflect on your personal context – your own values, beliefs and assumptions, and the origins of these elements
LEVEL 2 OF REFLECTION: reflect on the immediate learning environment – the classroom, other adults, families/whānau and the local community
- number of children, teachers and other adults present… the physical environment (layout, acoustics, open spaces, convenience of facilities, access, the look, feel and smell of surfaces…)… the resources available… the community in which you work… the values, beliefs, and assumptions of the people with whom you work
LEVEL 3 OF REFLECTION: reflect on the requirements of ECE – the philosophy of the setting, statutory requirements eg DOPs, regulations
- reflect on what you are required to do as an EC teacher… the philosophy of the setting… the influence of policies and regulations (Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998; Early Childhood Charter Guidelines, the Statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices; Te Whāriki)
LEVEL 4 OF REFLECTION: reflect on the nation’s values and beliefs about children and ECE
- the general view of early childhood held by the nation; the value that government and society give to early childhood will affect the support / resources / image etc…
Critical Reflection Model 4: Ways of Knowing
As you develop your reflective skills and change the way that you integrate new information into existing structures, you develop your ways of knowing.
- Silence: knowledge is obtained through concrete experience. Little thought involved… reliant on others for reason and meaning
- Received knowing: from authorities. An individual focuses on listening and reproducing what she has been told… little critical thought
- Subjective knowing: this knowledge comes from within the individual and fits her needs. It is the ideas and feelings about what you are doing, which you do not analyse or base on perspectives other than your own.
- Procedural knowing: concerned with analyzing and comparing your different perspectives to gain the most accurate knowledge
- Constructed knowledge: is concerned with examining a situation from your won perspective, integrating your perspective with other perspectives and analyzing how they fit into a coherent whole.
Critical Reflection Model 5: Spiral Model
- Act: your teaching practice involves action
- Select: you select an action that has impacted on you during the day
- Name: you describe the action
- Reflect: you reflect using the description of the action, as well as considering values, beliefs, assumptions, other influences on the event, theory and the context of the event
- Research: you refer to theory to support your reflections
- Plan: you develop a plan as a result of the reflection
- Act: you implement the plan
- Monitor: you return to the beginning of the spiral and the process continues
CRITICAL REFLECTION Model 6: Smyth’s stages in Personal and Professional Empowerment
Describing (what did you do?)
Informing (what does this mean?)
– the description is ‘unpacked’ in a search for underpinning patterns or principles
Confronting (how did I come to be this way?)
– this involves a ‘stepping back’ from the event/activity that has been described and includes examining historical, social and cultural contexts et where did the ideas come from? What does this tell me about my beliefs and values?
Reconstructing (how might I view or do things differently?)
– consideration of alternative views and generation of goals for future action