Remember The Basics: Reflection

As many know, New Jersey public schools enjoy a week long Spring break somewhere around Easter. This is a great opportunity to pause, take walks, and truly reflect on professional practice…which I have done. When you think about it, we have completed approximately three marking periods or, if you don’t think by an academic calendar, one quarter of the year. Either way, continual reflection is a necessity in order to operate productively and this is a perfect time to do it especially in academia as we are beginning to close out the year and take stock of much needed improvements.

So how should we account for our success or more importantly less than desirable results? As I was recently reminded while doing my dissertation research and writing, frameworks or professional standards help us to identify where to begin the conversation. They are a point of departure, the talking points, and a place to rate or align our recent activities.

The point isn’t to have someone else or a set of mere words, whether it be an organization or expert, determine whether we have been doing an effective job. What we do as knowledge workers is generally so specialized to the exact organization and time period that no one can accurately “slap an approved sticker” on our recent activities unless they have personally been involved. That said, we cannot really do the same ourselves without putting a “severely biased sticker”  on the assessed results. As much as someone on the outside doesn’t have a thorough enough perspective, we are equally incapable due to our deep involvement. What are we to do?

This is where aligning ourselves with what many experts have determined to be the best practices come into play. As I indicated earlier, this is not the end all, but a place to launch thoughts and conversations inside our brains. I also stress the word many in the first sentence of this paragraph. A multitude of perspectives attempts to avoid a too narrow approach and a resulting skewed assessment. Look to several organizations, experts, and even colleagues within your own work environment. Analyze what has made them successful.

Examples of these kinds of resources are the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and their NETS for administrators, teachers, coaches, and technology teachers. For the learning and development people who are creating educational experiences, frameworks such as the Technology Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) or Levels of Teaching Innovation (LoTi) are also great for the consumption. You can also look to general thought processes like the ones at Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the 4 C’s…creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. A great pool of experts who talk the talk and walk the walk can be found at Ian Jukes’ site.

When time permits and you get a moment to slow your brain down, reflect on your last couple of months…then react and implement personal change. It is the spirit of education and the quest of life long learners. Happy thinking!

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