What is Reflective Practice?
Reflective practice is a skill used by professionals to think about or reflect on their work. It is a way to learn from experience by thinking about what you did, the results that your client got and what other options you may have had to help the client to get different results.
We all think about what happened in the past from time to time and sometimes this can even be a problem if something traumatic or distressing happens to us.
There is a difference between thinking about something and reflective practice. Reflective practice requires us to consciously think about events for the purpose of developing our insight, taking the learnings and then letting go.
Once you get into the habit of using reflective practice, you will probably find it useful both at work and at home.
Reflective practice is, in its simplest form, thinking about or reflecting on what you do. It is closely linked to the concept of learning from experience, in that you think about what you did, and what happened, and decide from that what you would do differently next time.
Thinking about what has happened is part of being human. However, the difference between casual ‘thinking’ and ‘reflective practice’ is that reflective practice requires a conscious effort to think about events, and develop insights into them. Once you get into the habit of using reflective practice, you will probably find it useful both at work and at home.
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The Reflective Practice Skill Set
According to Moon, J. (1999), Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice
“Reflective practice is an active, dynamic action-based and ethical set of skills, placed in real time and dealing with real, complex and difficult situations.”
Reflective Practice can be a shared activity
In fact it is an activity that is better when shared. Getting the input of others is an essential part of reflective practice because if you have nothing to compare your practice to it is unlikely that you will develop new insights or innovations as easily.
Sharing ideas also requires a process of refining them in order to say them out loud. This is part of learning and remembering. We all remember brilliant ideas that we know we’ve had but forgotten!
Some learning theoreticist believe that is because ideas need to be written or spoken to be remembered. That indicates that keeping a practice journal may be a good idea for those who are working alone such as dispute resolution professionals.
Peer Supervision is an option for reflective practice hosted by Mediation Institute.
The Reflective Learning Journal
Step One – Identify the situation
Identify a situation you encountered in your work or personal life that you believe could have been dealt with more effectively.
Step Two – Describe the experience
What happened? When and where did the situation occur? Any other thoughts you have about the situation?
Step Three -Reflection
How did you behave? What thoughts did you have? How did it make you feel? Were there other factors that influenced the situation? What have you learned from the experience?
Step Four – Theorizing
How did the experience match with your preconceived ideas, i.e. was the outcome expected or unexpected? How does it relate to any formal theories that you know? What behaviours do you think might have changed the outcome?
Step Five – Experimentation
Is there anything you could do or say now to change the outcome? What actions can you take to change similar reactions in the future? What behaviours might you try out?
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