I was first introduced to reflective practice during my graduate traineeship at Leeds Met three years ago (they’re recruiting for their next graduate trainee, if anyone’s interested, by the way!). There was a lot of emphasis placed on preparing us for life as a librarian and, as reflection is viewed as increasingly important in the LIS profession, they asked us to keep a reflective diary of our year, from which we could create a final reflective report at the end of the traineeship. Writing reflectively didn’t come naturally to me, but I persevered, and, whilst my earlier entries are fairly descriptive, by the end I was starting to get the hang of it. At that point I still wasn’t totally convinced of the value of reflective writing; it felt like something I had to do as part of my career. During my MA we had to keep an assessed reflective journal of our progress towards becoming an effective manager, as part of our year-long management module. I put this off for as long as possible because the whole management module scared me and I didn’t know where to start, but once I forced myself to get on with it, I began to see some value in reflective writing; with no prior experience or knowledge of management, it helped me to consolidate what we were learning in the module, to relate it to my past experience with my own managers and colleagues, and to consider how I might behave as a manager in the future. And again, I saw an improvement in my ability to reflect, as I wrote my journal entries; the final couple got really good marks and were genuinely reflective.
By the time I started my job, the ability to reflect was coming much more naturally, and I decided to set up a blog in which to reflect on my experiences. Now, I blog about everything I do; every event, conference or course that I attend, things that I do at work, such as teaching, as well as my thoughts on my past experiences i.e. library school and job-hunting. I think that I do it in a reflective way (examples here and here, if anyone feels like commenting!), and writing up my experiences allows me to make sense of it; to really consider the experience, pick out what I learnt, and work out where things went wrong. It’s easy to forget what you’ve done if you don’t record it, and it’s easy to forget the value (or non-value) of something if you only record it descriptively. Now that I am Chartering, reflection on everything I do that relates to my PPDP objectives is hugely important, and the decision to Charter was one of the main reasons that I started blogging about what I’ve been doing.
However, as explained in the CPD23 blog post for Thing 5, reflection isn’t just about getting your Chartership or other qualification; it’s about working out what you’ve learnt and where you go next in your work (and maybe even home?) life. Once I have finished my Chartership portfolio (if that ever happens!) I’ll continue to reflect, because I feel that it makes my work more effective. Checking that the staff whom I line-manage are reflecting on their work and personal development, and encouraging them to do so, is a standing item on the agenda for our monthly one-to-one updates. All in all, I am a big fan of reflection. However, when someone refers to it as “reflective practice”, I start to feel anxious, and panic that I’m not doing it correctly, that I’m not being reflective enough. I think that may be one reason why my Chartership has stalled; I look at the “Building your portfolio” book, or get an email from my mentor reminding me that I must write-up and reflect on what I’ve been doing for my portfolio as soon as possible, and I get really anxious, even though I know, or at least I’m pretty sure, that I am doing this. I think perhaps this might be more of a symptom of me feeling stuck and de-motivated with the whole Chartership process, though (that’s a whole other blog post!).
I think my CPD23 blog posts have been fairly reflective so far. I’m not sure about this one though!