One of the essential skills that can take us from an average educator to and outstanding educator is reflection.
Our current high paced society often forces us to put a reflective practice on the backburner. There are many more expectations others have of us in our personal and professional lives. Changes in how we deliver our services have complicated our professional lives even more. As for navigating the current pandemic on a personal level, many of us are edgy, hoping that we make the right choices for our health and our family’s.
However, if we are to support children in their growth and development, then we must be regularly reflecting on our own experiences and practices, as well as the children’s experiences. It’s time that we must carve into our schedule if we are to remain professional and focused.
Being reflective means that we look at the good things along with the bad. You probably fall into one of two camps. Either you focus on the failures or are blind to the shortcomings and only focus on successes. Professional educators must look at both outcomes because there is valuable learning to be had from both. Taking the time to understand why activities and experiences went well is as essential as why there were failures. Acknowledging the good moments offer us the opportunity to extend activities and to deepen children’s learning.
Taking the time to reflect allows us to remain present and make observations around the children’s experiences and play. When we take the time to stop and objectively see what is happening with the children, we learn how our children are learning and what is motivating them to explore and discover. These essential observations allow us to plan for the program and to adjust our practice to better meet children where they are.
When we draw up our curriculum plans, we can have an idea in our mind as to how children will use and interact with the materials or activities that we provide. Children can be counted on to show us ways to interact with the environment that we had never considered. When we take the time to observe and to reflect on what the children did, rather than what we assumed they would do, we begin to understand their skills, needs and interests on a deeper, more meaningful level.
When we make reflection a regular part of our practice, we bring intentionality to the classroom. When we are intentional, we are questioning our choices and our decisions. Materials and activities are brought into the classroom with a plan or a reason. Reflecting allows us to slow down and be proactive rather than reactive to the children’s needs. Reflection will enable us to grow insight into our children and their families, which strengthens those relationships.
Building reflection into our practice buys us the time to think about what we want, what the children need and allows us to become the educators that we aspire to become.Until next week