reflective moments?


A large part of the methodology for this project is based on participants’ reflections.  As we work through the different stages of the project, we punctuate our journeys with questions that will make us stop and take stock of where we are now and how far we have come.  By doing this we can see how the project is influencing our thinking.  This is a good way of verifying our research- showing individual journeys, and illustrating general trends towards the way we will be at the end of it all.  Was it worthwhile, has it had any impact on us, has it changed us for the better?  The answers to all these questions will, we hope be ‘yes.’

It is my job to collate these reflections, and I feel a bit like the BFG wandering around  not with a dream catcher, but with a reflections catcher, ready to file them neatly into an especially prepared page on our project wiki. Here they will be kept safe and secure until they are analysed, anonomised and summarised.  We have received a few, but I must say they are not pouring in.  These reflections are difficult to extract, and I wonder if it is not just because people are incredibly busy at this time of year.

I think it is because they are really hard to write.  “Just spend fifteen to twenty minutes at the most” I heard myself saying to one wary participant.  But as I found when I wrote my own reflection, this is quite impossible to do.  What we decide to include, and what to leave out is a very difficult decision.  Students in a recent focus group recognised this sort of dilemma.  They talked about how during  teaching practice, they were asked for reflections on their own pedagogical practice.  Some of them were quite blunt about their approach:

“We only write in things that will make us look good”, they said, “ like ‘we spent too much time planning our lessons’, or something like that.  We would never write ‘that lesson was so crap I came home and cried!’”  They know that their tutor is going to read their reflections, and that whatever they wrote would be judged.  They saved what they really thought for their conversations on facebook – with peers whom they trusted, who would not judge them, who would recognise their sentiments because they might be in a similar situation.

These reflections are not for public consumption, and unlike the case of the students, no-one is judging their content, and yet I still find them hard to do.   Is there anyone else out there who is struggling with similar thoughts?


3 thoughts on “reflective moments?

  1. I agree – it is the hardest part for me as it is the bit of me that will leave a legacy in printed form or on the Internet that may impact on practice for years to come (hopefully!)
    It was interesting having Nicky there at my project group last week, and we daren’t get into a conversation without a flip camera there – the conversations we were having were too precious not to be recorded. ‘Quick, get the camera!’
    I hope my reflections on here have been some help, perhaps some feedback from the project team that my thoughts are what you are after is needed? The team itself is quite an intimidating array of doctors and professors from renowned universities and in some respects, I feel like my voice is so small amongst such a literary academic field…

    • Well what synchronicity! !! I have just started a course on Graphic Design (actually last November … it still feels very new though) and we have to keep a learning blog. Oh how hard this is. It is so hard that I wrote about the process in my blog. My analogy is of when my maths teacher told me I had to ‘show my working out’ on the page. I used to think, ” is she mad? I have no idea how I worked it out! I don’t know if I did work it out! ” Underneath all this was the suspicion that she did not really want to see how I worked it out, but she wanted to see if I could replicate what she had done earlier on the blackboard (and I could not.)
      So … is this the same? I think we want the second stage on from your gut reactions. The bit without the swearing and the bits where it is in sentences. But we are not after theories. Guy’s feelings that we, the academic team, are nervous, is true. We are always in awe of teachers – especially you guys who we know are so good. And we are after thoughts that represent you in the position as reflective practitioners but as PEOPLE who are involved in a project that is emerging and not set in stone. We think it is important to capture feelings of trepidation and questions. So to use my maths teacher analogy, it would be about asking Julia, the pupil, what do you find hard about maths. What is it about Maths that makes it seem difficult? etc. I am not sure if this helps but I will write my reflections on the project and re-visit your question Mrs Cosgrove.

  2. I think reflective stuff is really difficult to do, partly because you really have to stick your neck out. It’s much easier to sit back and wait to see what other people do, and then just sort of go along with the others.But most of all, for me, when I sit back and ask myself what I think of things, I get a jumble of contradictory ideas – they seem to take shape over time. As for the doctors and professors thing – well I’m just intimidated by thoughtful and energetic teachers. Maybe we need to set our roles aside sometimes and meet somewhere in the middle, wherever that is!

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