This week our Faculty Learning Community focused on the Morehead Writing Project met and we talked about our top priority for our writing classrooms and because many of us are also engaged in mentoring instructors and tutors we also talked about our primary goal for those writing instructors and tutors. It was a lively and interesting conversation, but what really struck me is that ultimately all our answers could be boiled down to one simple response: reflective practice.
The concept of reflective practice is to engage in continuous learning. Engaging in reflective practice requires an inherent belief that we are never done learning and growing. Reflective practice requires that we learn from experience rather than teaching or knowledge transfer.
The teacher as reflective practitioner is an important part of our work with the National Writing Project. We encourage the teachers we work with to continually reflect on what is happening in their classrooms to think about what is working and what is not as well as why. It is that reflection upon the why that is key to this practice of growth and development.
In recent years I have incorporated reflective practice into my work with writers as well as teachers. Writers learn and grow by writing but also by reflecting on their past experience, both challenges and successes. What were their goals? What did they do to achieve those goals? What worked? What did not? Understanding the answers to these questions can help writers adapt their practice to future situations and better position them to make better choices.
My goal is always to make my students into writers, but more important, to make them into self-regulating writers. Reflective practice is essential to this transformation into self-regulating writer. With reflection, with a recognition and practice of continually reflecting on the lessons offered by each experience, writers can continue to learn and grow long after they leave the writing classroom and hopefully throughout the rest of their lives. That is my goal for my students and I am continually refining my pedagogical strategies to achieve this goal.
This blog is my own struggle to be a reflective practitioner. I hope that others benefit from my posts, but ultimately I know I am the primary beneficiary as I record my achievements, defeats, struggles, and progress. Do you engage in reflective practice? Do your students?