10 ways to be a more reflective educator
Published on Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Last updated on Monday, 22 March 2021
Reflective practice gives educators a chance to stop, reflect and learn from those everyday situations that arise when you’re working with young children. It’s about reflecting not just on what happened, but why. While some may find the process challenging and time-consuming, it’s an important part of ongoing skills development and gives you the chance to refine your personal approach and centre policies to provide the very best care for children.
Here are 10 strategies to help you become an effective reflective educator:
- Set a regular time
Reflective practice is an ongoing commitment. You don’t need a lot of time – even as little as 10 or 15 minutes will do – but aim to make it part of your team’s schedule. Choose a time of day that’s typically quiet, such as during rest time or when the children have gone home. Each staff member should bring their own reflection of the day to the session, but it’s also an opportunity for service leaders to reflect on team situations too.
- Make sure everyone is heard
Some members of your team will find the process a challenge and will be reluctant to speak up in a group setting. But to get the most ideas and viewpoints, it’s important to hear from everyone – not just the more vocal members of your team. Create an environment where individuals feel safe to speak their opinion, raise questions, offer ideas and voice concerns about their own and the service’s practices.
- Identify issues
Watch situations closely, whether it’s a routine part of your schedule such as morning drop-off or a group activity. Ask yourself: What is happening? What are colleagues doing? How are the children responding? Take note of each stage of the event – before, during and after.
Actively listen to what both you and the children are saying about what just happened. What are both of you not saying? What is the sound in the room like?
- Consider it from different perspectives
How would you describe what just happened? And how would this differ to how your manager, a parent or a child would describe it? What about a person from another culture? Think about how you might react if you were the child or the parent in this situation.
Describe the events during reflection time. Consider when it happened, who benefited and who didn’t. Be honest about how you feel about it, and consider its significance to your team, the children and parents.
- Look ahead
What did you learn from the event? If you would do things differently next time, what would you do? Is there anything else you need to know? If you decide it’s necessary, take action and plan for similar scenarios in the future.
- Ask tough questions
Don’t be afraid to use reflection time to ask bigger questions around service policies and procedures. Just be aware that issues like these might require you to widen the circle to include management, families, children and educators.
- Get an outside perspective
It’s hard to see things clearly when you’re very close to a situation. Discuss the issue with other team members and seek their views and advice. Also look beyond your centre – find out what other centres are doing, ask trusted colleagues how they would view the issue, and research new theories and innovations on the topic.
- Write it down
Make note of the main points and ideas that arose from your personal and group reflection time. Doing this regularly not only helps you organise your thoughts, but it keeps you accountable and demonstrates your commitment to ongoing learn and development. If you’re in a leadership position, you may be able to use this information later to help others in your team understand your thinking and rationale behind any policy changes.
Several of the tips in this article were found on The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.
Reflective practice in early childhood education sets the stage for critical reflection by seeking a diversity of opinion and requiring an openness to change.
Jean Piaget’s approach to early education describes his philosophy and theoretical underpinnings and considers the impact on modern early education pedagogies.