Reflective Practice; is a way of studying your own experiences to improve the way you work. It is very useful for health professionals who want to carry on learning throughout their lives. The act of reflection is a great way to increase confidence and become a more proactive and qualified professional. (www.brightknowledge.org)
The above quote makes reference to the term ‘studying your own experiences’ allowing Reflective Practice to not only benefit professionals in the healthcare sector but in anything and everything that you do. Whether that’s a Learning and Development Professional facilitating a Workshop, Senior Manager chairing a multiagency meeting or a Sports-Person entering a competitive tournament but how?
Well, Reflective Practice is exactly that – spending time after an event thinking and possibly documenting; What worked well and why? What could have been better and why? How did I perform? How could I improve? What would I keep the same? And so forth. Using this method repeatedly in our practice allows us to self evaluate our performance and challenge our own thought processes in our decision making. This is a form of Reflection on Action (after the event) as too are methods such Gibbs Reflective Cycle (pictured below) in documenting not just what happened, but as a result what I’m going to do next in the form of planning. Going back to Gibbs after our plan has been set it allows ourselves to view what progress has been made.
Another Reflection on Action method is that of Action Learning Sets (pictured below) which allow ourselves to work with our peers on issues we may feel are impacting on our performance or issues in the workplace etc.
This group agenda allows mutuality within peers working with one another, reflecting, using all the rich experience in the room and as a result an individual may find themselves in a more confident, solution focussed state of mind after sharing an area they may wish to focus on.
All the above are examples of ‘Reflection on Action’ however what I wished to blog about was a term called ‘Reflection in Action,’ This is a process of when we are going about our; Meeting Management, Workshop Deliveries or any other tasks we put our mind to that we are thinking, reflecting and focusing whilst in that moment of its facilitation.
What does this mean to me? Well in my role as a Learning and Development Advisor I need to always Reflect on every action I take in that moment for a number of different reasons such as; ensuring everyone in the room feels welcome, listened to and valued, delivering material whilst reading the body language of every learner in the room which could potentially change parts of my delivery throughout the day, listening to every individual in the room regarding their goals, targets, fears and ambitions and also display an unwavering element of positivity and showmanship. If you combine on top of these a facilitation of emotive and complex content, session timings, creating a platform for individuals to share their knowledge, challenging learners, being congruent, being challenged ourselves on our delivery, managing relationships in the room and trying to deliver it all in a way which is viewed as fun and exciting – that’s a LOT of cognitive functioning in this role.
Now that’s just a brief snapshot of my thought-process when standing up delivering in a Learning Environment and plenty more which I haven’t mentioned such as use of language, pace, body language and so on. All these decisions I evaluate in Reflection on Action exercises which in turn influences my Reflection in Action. An almost instantaneous decision making strategy relying on experience, ease in the environment and willingness to experiment in the here and now. If said exercise didn’t work out as well as I envisaged that’s okay, I’ll try something different next time. A mantra that I apply to all the previously mentioned factors.
To summarise, my Reflection in Action practice through experience, commitment and controlled experimentation ultimately allows me to have a certain ease when presenting, delivering and creating a platform for people to learn in a way which feels individual, comfortable and informal.
Although I’ve shared my thoughts on Reflective Practice in a Learning and Development Role, I’m convinced both Reflection in and on Action can be fully utilised regardless of your role, task or exercise as long as there is a commitment and a desire to professionally and/or personally develop.
When you reflect you adapt, you learn, you plan, you evaluate and you start again – an almost Brooklyn Bridge Painting Style of Professional Progression.