An Educator’s Reflective Practice
In the article, Going Deeper: Exploring Reflective Practices with Inspiration from Reggio Emilia, Sarah Adams-Kollitz’s discusses her personal experience when the Reggio Emilia approach was incorporated into her early childhood program. The article focuses specifically on the area of reflective practices beginning with the teachers and eventually spanning out to the children, parents, and surrounding community. While the author acknowledges the importance of routines and structure in early education settings, she also discusses the important need for teacher reflection in order to create a more emergent daily curriculum.
What is Reflective Practice?
Reflective practice by definition is the ability to reflect on an action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning. In her program, Adams-Kollitz and her colleagues began by defining the meaning of reflection and several strategies that were incorporated to ensure a larger role of reflection in their school setting. Reflection was generally seen as the act of thinking about a past experience to generate thoughts, ideas, and questions. While the author and her colleagues understood the type of reflection children undergo in the classroom to make sense of the world, it was unclear how much the process of reflection could stir new exploration and growth for the teacher and even reach out into the families and community.
Reflective Teaching Strategies
For teachers, reflective practice is the ultimate tool for learning because it allows children to take ownership and learn upon their own experiences. For reflection to play a larger role in the school and for teachers to feel comfortable sharing their reflections, three strategies were used. These strategies involved incorporating a five-minute reflection period, replacing traditional lesson planning with flexible planning, and developing classroom intentions throughout the school year. During the teacher’s reflective time, they were asked to make an observation, then a reflection on how the observation made them think and feel, followed by a projection of possible ideas.
In the beginning, teachers were given this time during morning meetings and weekly meetings and as the year progressed, children and parents became involved in this reflective thought process. The teachers also replaced their traditional lesson planning with more flexible planning emerging from each child’s interests and growth. Each classroom developed a series of questions that teachers, children, and even parents could explore throughout the school year that focused on a bigger idea or picture.
Benefits of Reflective Practices
As the teachers became more comfortable with reflective practices and sharing their reflections with one another, it began to trickle throughout the school. The teachers saw their staff meeting discussions become more meaningful and when parents were asked to reflect, the outcome was amazing. Focusing on an emergent curriculum while still understanding the importance of routines and structure brought a fascinating growth among the students and school. Creating classroom intentions allowed for creative and open-ended questions to build and develop during the school year.
For more information on how The Compass School uses reflective practices under the Reggio Emilia approach please visit The Compass School nearest to you!