Reflection is a key component of learning
Not only does it help assimilate and consolidate learning, but it also helps us think about our professional practice more broadly and the impact we have.
What do we mean by reflection?
Reflection can be defined as serious thought or consideration. It is through this critical analysis of our own actions that we can develop and improve our professional practice.
Reflection and reflective practice enable all tasks, activities and work to be learning opportunities – anything you do provides an opportunity for reflection, to critically analyse your actions and performance to help you think about what you will replicate and what you will look to change or develop.
Reflection as a preference
Reflection can be viewed as a preference or a style.
You may have come across learning styles questionnaires that attempt to identify your adult learning preferences. In the Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire, the most used within workforce development, there is a dedicated category: reflective learner.
Understanding your preferences can help you make the most of learning situations, and specifically for the Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA), this understanding helps build your continuing professional development (CPD) Plan.
Reflection as a skill
Reflection can also be viewed as a skill in its own right, more than a preference. Either way, reflection takes time.
What can help your reflective practice?
Playing to your strengths – understanding your learning style can help. Your reflection may be supported through discussion with others rather than by yourself.
Planning in time for reflection is key – daily, weekly or based around CPD activities; and completion of your CPD Log if you are doing your AMA. Prioritising reflection time helps you consolidate your learning, embedding it into your professional practice.
Playing to your interests – if you are participating in the AMA, you can capture this as part of your CPD Log. There are other ways to capture your reflections: you could keep a learning log or journal, make a Trello board, distill them into 280 characters for Twitter, or post them on your Facebook or other social media platforms.
Creating the conditions for reflection – these could be different depending on how you are capturing them. If you need quiet then look for a serene space; if you need noise then go to a café; if you need movement then hop on a bus.
Knowing what questions to ask may help you reflect:
- What did I learn about myself through that activity/experience?
- What did I learn about my area of work through that activity/experience?
- What did I learn about my organisation through that activity/experience?
- What did I learn about the sector through that activity/experience?
- What would I do differently based on these reflections?
- What would I suggest others do differently based on these reflections?
Be honest with yourself – you need to apply a critical lens to your actions in order to learn from them. Building your self-knowledge and awareness is part of reflective practice, and all are based on honesty.
For more information about learning, professional development and careers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.