Reflective practices allow us to take moments from our daily teaching lives and take stock of what they represent for us as practitioners. Writing reflectively enables us to do so at a deeper level. Although most teachers I know are highly critical of their practice, taking time out to fully understand our practice is something slightly different. Doing so in a way that will help us to also meet the statutory requirements for career progression (and the teacher registration requirements for renewal) is becoming ever more important. When applying to climb the career stage ladder, or responding to the call of the registrations board’s auditor, no one wants to be scrambling for evidence at the last minute! Instead, we want an opportunity to constantly reflect upon our practice in a way that will allow us to tick the boxes of our profession’s statutory requirements – whilst we do the far more important job of growing our practice.
The best learners make the best teachers. In order to help the learners we work with in our classrooms we need to be able to learn and grow ourselves. Infact, being able to learn and adapt is fast becoming one of the most wanted skills for future employers. We need to be able to model to ourselves, our students and our potential employers that we are learners who are passionate about our practice. We might consider ourselves to be reflective practitioners anyway; there are countless critical thoughts, questions and aha moments going around in our minds every day. However, by taking the time to record them we give ourselves the opportunity to delve more deeply into our learning. Writing, especially in a potentially public space, requires craft. Craft requires your brain to connect ideas, evaluate them and make decisions about how to present ideas. These processes are proven to deepen your understanding and enable you to set clear goals for yourself.
When we interviewed Markeeta about this she suggested something very similar about her own practice. Have a listen to what she had to share.
When was the last time that you took place in some reflective practice?
The last time I reflected on my practice in any detail, I audio recorded the groups I was working with at a Reflect Growth meet up and listened back to each of them, making notes. I managed to come up with eight bullet points for myself. Some identifying good points, some points for growth and some points to find out more about. What I didn’t have at the time was a space to place those notes that would save me time later. A place where I could also identify the AITSL standards I was discussing. A place where the time it took me to listen to and record my reflections could count towards my own hours for professional development. What we need to do is become smarter about how we gather evidence and what we do with it.
Across your career as a teacher in Australia you will be asked to gather evidence in seven domains of practice and in four career stages. That’s 148 separate focus areas all in all which are used to define you as a professional. Of course, on top of that, depending on which state you are in, you will also be required to meet the professional development requirements of your teacher registration board. In SA (and in many other states to boot) that’s 60 hours of professional development during a registration period of 3 years. Of course the evidence you gather for those bodies also has to be linked to the AITSL standards too.
When I look back at my notes from my audio recordings, on my 8 points for reflection I can not see any evidence of my actively attempting to connect with the AITSL standards and, as I say, I wasn’t really in a position to count those thoughts as PD hours either. I simply wasn’t working efficiently. That’s where my e-portfolio comes in. Now, I have a space where I can take each one of those dot points and explain them to myself. When we designed Edufolios we wanted it to work a little harder than that though. When I’m writing my post I also have my standards guide to help me choose the AITSL focus are and domain I’m reflecting on. I’ve also got a space to record the time it has taken me to listen to, respond and reflect on my learning and report that back to the TRB (SA) so that I don’t have to keep a separate record. I’m doing reflective practice smarter than I was and it’s saving me heaps of time whilst allowing me to focus on what’s really important – the development of my skills as a teacher.