How do you reflect on your practice?

All, Guides, Pillar

I have been blogging for more than a decade, but my reflection on my praxis began a decade before my first blog post when I took Seminar on Composition from David Elias at Eastern Kentucky University. However, it was the synergy of beginning my doctoral studies in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech and joining the National Writing Project community in 2008 that started me down this road. Reflection is an integral part of growing as a writing teacher. We need to reflect on our personal growth and development as a writer as well as the forces at play in that journey, but we also need to understand how that journey looks in the lives of others so we can craft the best learning experiences to support the growth and development of the writers in our charge whether they are in our personal classroom or a program we direct.

I want to begin this reflective journey by sharing a metareflection I wrote in 2015 that offers both my own experience on reflection as well as why I think it important for my students to reflect, but also offers reflection advice from other educators. I see this post as making an argument for more reflection – both on the part of the instructor and the student.

It has often been my practice to reflect at the end of a semester about my successes, failures, and struggles. For many years, that practice was guided by the 3×3 method I was first introduced to by Natalie Houston in Profhacker although over time my practice evolved into reflecting about the good, the bad, and the ugly. But there are a variety of reflection frameworks that I have explored during my career that I want to share in hopes that others will find them as useful as I have.

A reflection guide who has inspired me countless times over the years is Christopher Leman with his post “Three Questions When Lesson Planning”. Much like Houston’s 3×3, Leman’s three questions have featured prominently in this blog through the years. They have guided my pedagogy and practice in so many ways. In Challenging your pedagogy and maybe even your program I reflect on the importance of his philosophy at the time and eight years later it still resonates as powerfully as it did then.

In 2019, John Warner challenges the “standard” that writing to a text is the primary (only?) goal of writing instruction by listing five qualities he uses to judge a writing curriculum. He explores those qualities more fully in an  Insider Higher Education blog post about how to evaluate a curriculum. I found these qualities evocative as well and so them to evaluate my fall 2019 classes in American Literacy: Exploring the values underpinning a writing class and Reflections On Teaching Professional Writing.

However, it is not enough to have great prompts to guide your reflection, you must also put in the work. This blog is a testament to my ongoing commitment to be a reflective practitioner and while so many educators, and my students, have contributed to this journey, it is this blog that has been my greatest teacher. In 2014 I wrote a blog post extolling the lessons that blogging taught me and I can only say that all these years later blogging continues to teach me. I highly recommend it as both a reflective and accountability practice. As a teacher-leader I feel driven to share my journey, but that does not mean blogging publicly is right for everyone. I do recommend the practice of reflecting regularly as a tool for growth and development. While I often use the prompts I’ve shared here, most often my blog posts are driven by what is happening in my classroom or in my head before/after meeting with my students. This blog is a record of my teaching career for the past decade or so. Whether you blog or journal, I highly recommend setting yourself a reflection goal. Do you reflect on your teaching journey?

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