Reflect with Humility

when 1 teaches, 2 learn

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┬áis 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.Life is a mirror

12 comments for “Reflect with Humility

  1. Marie
    January 7, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Thank you, Sam, for your beautifully written blogpost. I enjoy reading the blog posts from Connected Principals but rarely comment. I am a pre-service teacher entering the final year of my degree and I have a growing awareness of the need to reflect on my practice, the way I see the world and how this impacts upon my teaching. I am very aware of the huge responsibility of I will have to help children learn to learn. During my placements, I have kept a journal on my journey as a pre-service teacher and each evening reflected on my practice. My reflections have caused me to re-evaluate what I’ve done, what I could have done, and where I can improve my practice. These reflections not only highlight the improvements that I need to make but I also reflect where I felt that I had taught the students well. The reflections have also allowed me a place to record what the children have taught me.

    • January 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      Wow, Marie, that’s very impressive! It sounds like you are well on your way to a wonderful career. You’re already in a good place in terms of setting yourself up for success. There are some kids, staff, and parents that are going to be very lucky to have you in their lives!

      Thank you for reading and sharing!

  2. January 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Hi Sam. I have gained so much in terms of increased skill and service since I started reflecting and sharing those reflections in my blog, yet I’ve never read a post like yours that breaks down reflection into components and actions. I engage in a similar process as you. In fact at this time of year, I begin to have a parallel mindset–one thread for this year, and one thread already planning for next and how I can learn more and work better. I look forward to reading more of your posts on Connected Principals. I actually opened up the site looking for inspiration this morning, and found your terrific post. Thank you. Also, I appreciated Mary’s comment above as well.

    • January 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      I like your parallel mindset, Maureen. Determining where you are by linking an assessment of where you’ve been with where you want to head…awesome! Thank you for reading and sharing!

  3. January 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Sam,
    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I have recently embarked on a blog adventure centered on the idea of reflection. I agree that reflection is something we need to develop by practicing every day. I like the connection you’ve made to humility. I love the concept of a “continuous cycle of pride in your current” work. Great thought!

    Amy

  4. Ron Krause
    January 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Reflection with humility takes time and honesty. Two commodities which are difficult to come by at times. Time is self explanatory as we barely have time to sleep some days. Honesty requires giving ourselves permission to fail and LEARN from it. We must discipline ourselves to take the time necessary to hone our reflective skills as Jim Rohn once said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

    • January 7, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks for reading and contributing, Ron! It certainly can be a a complex puzzle, of which honesty and time and two more significant pieces. I am a big proponent of failure as a part of the learning process!

  5. Cynthia Webb
    January 15, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. In the rush and press of the daily school day, it’s sometimes hard to keep reflection in mind. And in the desire to celebrate the accomplishments of the day, humility is sometimes hard to come by. I try to remember that just like my students and teachers are only where they can be, that’s where I am, too.

    • January 16, 2014 at 12:55 am

      Thanks for reading and sharing, Cynthia! It sounds like you have a very level head :)

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