Reflecting on Reflection: How can I change?

SwanBy Sabrina Bong —  At the end of every class period I teach, my supervisor Bridget always turns to me and asks, “How do you think that class went?”

The first time she asked me, I said “It was good.” No disasters had occurred. The students had been well-behaved. It didn’t seem as though anything needed explanation or elaboration. To me, “good” sufficed to sum up my classroom experience.

Bridget smiled at me and said, “I’ll accept that this time, because it was your first day. But after today, I expect to hear more than just ‘good.’” She then explained that she really wanted me to reflect on my classroom experience. What went well? What could I improve on? She also pointed out that since I was teaching on two different days, I’d be able to remedy what I didn’t like about the first day and change it for the next.

It took a little while to get used to (it’s really hard to elaborate on some days!) but over the weeks, I have grown to appreciate Bridget’s challenge to identify what went well and what I can change. I’ve learned to really reflect on what I have been learning through my internship experience, and then apply it to my future practice. It’s also great to combine my own personal reflections with Bridget’s observations; sometimes, she points out things that I did really well on that I may not have even noticed!

However, it is not just Bridget who stresses the importance of reflection. My Leadership in School Counseling class recently discussed how crucial reflection can be in the counseling process. In class, we learned that there are two types of reflection: single-loop and double-loop. Single-loop reflection is the most common; it involves thinking back on the action you did and deciding whether to repeat the action or do it differently. This is what I do a lot during my elementary school internship; I look back on what worked with the classes I taught, what didn’t work, and how I can change my routine up to ensure maximum learning in my students.

Double-loop, however, is an entirely different process. Double loop is where you not only evaluate the action you just took, but also evaluate what you were thinking when you decided on that particular action. It really demands that you examine what led you to that decision in the first place. For example, if I were to host a seminar at night to talk to parents about their children’s homework, and it turned out to be a flop, I would need to figure out what led me to that decision in the first place. Perhaps I thought that evening was best because parents would be off of work. However, after speaking to several parents, I may find out that the neighborhood is poor at night, or that parents are not able to find babysitters for their children at night. Armed with this knowledge, I will be better prepared the next time I host a seminar.

I never realized the two separate types of reflection, and now see that doing the double-loop reflection is one of the most crucial things I can do to change up my practice. The next time Bridget asks me to reflect, I’ll be better prepared to respond why I thought a certain way, and what I can do to change!

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