Do you give yourself permission to reflect?

I’ve been thinking about reflection lately and how we use it in our classrooms. I can remember being in elementary school and being asked to reflect in a journal. Reflection is a great process…a proven process of learning. We’ve been asking students to reflect for years in education so one simple question:

Do you give yourself permission to reflect during the work day?

and another question:

Do your administrators give you permission to reflect during the work day?

I say during the work day because I truly feel if we are to become better educators we need reflection time built into what we do. To often we end up like Jenny:

When you spend a considerable amount of time learning about how we transform learning with the use of new tools you find yourself online a lot. Most of this effort happens outside of my working day which impacts on sleep, family time and time spent with friends.

And that’s not good!

Why is it the educators place a high value on the reflective process yet do not give themselves permission to do it during their own working hours? Every educator has prep time. We use that time in a multitude of ways, yet how many of us set time aside just once a week to take 30 minutes or so and reflect.

You don’t have to blog, or even write. Reflecting could be reading an educational journal, it might be sitting and staring out the window, or it might be writing down your thoughts.

Andy Torris, an administrator, finds time in the back of the car when he’s going from one campus to another in his “Dispatch from the Road” posts. Andy uses his working day time, to reflect and write about his thinking.

New comer to the blogosphere David Hamilton has an excellent post on reflection and the act of reflecting.

But lest we forget, reflection is hard work. Whether we are sorting out our emotions and discerning personal values and attitudes, or discovering the shaky underpinnings of contemporary truths, reflection takes work, and, I would suggest, it takes practice. As I prepared to write this blog, I was amazed at how difficult it is to keep focused on a single abstract topic for stretches of time over several days.

Yes, reflecting is hard work! It takes practice, but more than that it takes time. Do you give yourself permission to reflect?

At the Learning 2.008 conference we had seven unconference sessions where participants could choose to go find a corner and reflect. Yet I have had conversations with people who went to the conference who said:

“I just wish I would have had time to site and play with everything I was learning.”

You did! You just didn’t give yourself permission to sit and let it soak in. Instead it was more important to you to go to this session, or that unconference session. Don’t blame the conference, we gave you the time…you just chose to use it in a different way.

Isn’t that what we do with prep time during our working day? We make a choice on how we are going to spend that time. We make the choice to answer e-mails, grade those papers, or update our facebook status.

During the Shanghai EduBlogger Con I was talking with some newbie bloggers who asked the question:

“Where do you find the time to blog?”

My anwers:

I schedule it into my work day. When I was hired and again the first week of school I told my administartion that I will be blogging during working hours. That blogging for me is about learning and reflecting. Blogging is not just writing, it is the act of reading, thinking, reflecting and writing. As a technology person in a school helping teachers, I need that time to reflect and learn about what’s happening, and I make a point to schedule that into my work day.

Question:

“So you close your door, make yourself unavaliable and blog?”

Answer:

2008-09-28_1442 by jutecht.Yes! I, unlike a classroom teacher, do not have set aside prep time. So I create my own around my lunch hour. I give myself 30 minutes of reflection time every day and back that with a 45 minute lunch. I shut off my e-mail client, I shut my door (or would if I had one) and I reflect. Now if a teacher comes to my door and needs my help of course I help them, but that rarely happens during the lunch hour.

I don’t write a blog post every day. Some days I read my RSS reader, other days I listen to a podcast or watch a YouTube video. Somedays I follow links and learn, and other days….I blog.

I give myself permission to reflect. I as a learner need that time, I understand how important it is to reflect and my administrators understand that it is legitimate use of my prep time.

Make reflection part of your work day. If it is something you try and do outside of school it won’t happen. There is rarely a time when I’m not thinking about education and technology…but it’s my passion and I love it! Some teachers have other interests, and that’s great! But give yourself time to reflect on your practice. Make it a habit to reflect and make it part of your work day.

Give yourself permission to reflect….it’s OK

If you need permission from someone then you have it from me. Tell your administrator that Jeff Utecht says you need to take time to reflect. If they have an issue with it…they can contact me! 🙂