It takes a lot from us educators to provide our kids, communities, and each other with the learning experiences we deserve. Two qualities that are near the top are reflection and humility, and the relationship between the two. I am growing to think reflection is a skill, and like all skills, must be practiced and exercised to be at its best. I have also grown to realize that humility allows for clear and accurate reflection. A lack of clear and accurate reflection can cause difficulty in addressing the needs of our kids, colleagues, and community in real time.
The skill of reflection tends to progress from occasional (yearly?) to on-going second nature (instantaneous during a lesson/presentation leading to immediate improvisation). We all care and are passionate about the work we do all day everyday with and for kids, and looking ourselves in the mirror and candidly assessing what is there can feel uncomfortable, to say the least. But, when the skill of reflection is refined, it is a humble focus on exactly that care and passion we have for our work with kids that should guide us.
Speaking personally, every year I look back on the previous year with mixed emotion. Due to continuous reflection and immediate revision, I feel proud of all the risks I took, mistakes I made, and revisions I implemented to grow as an educator and learner which have contributed to my best year yet! Then, it is with some embarrassment, that I look at the prior year and harshly ask myself, “That’s it?? Sam, that’s all you were able to offer our kids??? That’s the best you had??” And although the humbling answer to all of those questions is yes, it is with tremendous excitement that I look forward to the upcoming year. Another year of continuous reflection and immediate revision will repeat the cycle of making me ask the same questions of all of this year’s growth and accomplishments. To think, as proud as I am of this year, is as excited as I am to learn and grow to a point of questioning my current level. And to know that can be the continuous cycle of my career? Now that is exciting!
The relationship between reflection and humility should drive a continuous cycle of pride in your current place, interrogation of your past, and enamoring excitement for your future in providing kids, community, and colleagues with the learning experiences they–and you–deserve!
I would love to hear your thoughts on reflection, and perhaps how to strengthen its role in our development as educators.