If critical reflection is undertaken on a regular basis, it has the potential to strengthen and build the self-confidence of individual educators and the confidence of teams in early learning services and schools.
Why reflective practice?
Ongoing learning and reflective practice is one of the five principles of the Early Years Learning Framework and My Time Our Place. They are both keystones of high quality practice.
The National Quality Framework talks of intentional teaching where educators are deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in their decisions and actions.
So what is reflective practice?
Reflective practice is about reviewing events and experiences and then thinking about the implications of what you have observed. Did it meet the outcomes you had planned and how could it be strengthened or changed to improve practice as well as outcomes for children?
It requires educators to be intentional in their teaching and thoughtful, purposeful and deliberate in their decisions and actions.
What is critically reflective practice?
This takes reflective practice even deeper, asking us to consider if the experience is consistent with our beliefs, values and philosophy. It also asks us to examine our relationships and think about the issue of power and how it operates within the relationship and context.
Some questions to reflect on might include:
- What is my understanding of the child and family?
- If I look at this from their perspective what might I discover?
- What theories, philosophies and understandings shape and assist my work?
- Are there other theories and knowledge that might help me understand what happened?
- Who is advantaged when I work in this way?
- Who is disadvantaged? What questions do I have about my work?
Critically reflective practice requires individuals to unpack what challenges and confronts them, as well as what they’re curious about.
What needs to be in place for critically reflective practice to happen?
It is only in a safe and respectful setting that these types of honest reflections can occur, where there is a continuous process of planning for quality improvement that is collaborative and transparent.
Opportunities, time and space need to be created so all educators can contribute and debate. This requires both the allocation of resources at the organisational level and leadership to enable a culture of inquiry.
Knowing why you are doing something leads to being open to being challenged and rethinking, reflecting and feeling comfortable with your decision. The team no longer sees questions as a criticism of their work but rather an opportunity to ‘think’ differently.
During critically reflective practice educators learn about themselves and their professional identity. They understand the thoughts, values, beliefs, motivation, emotions and depth of knowledge they bring to their everyday judgement, which contributes to wellbeing.