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Reflective practice?

2011

I see a lot of references to ‘reflective’ practice but I am not sure I know what it means. I find I cannot think and do at the same time if that is what it means. I am hoping someone can help me understand what ‘reflective practice’ means. Maybe it is because I do not have much experience?

Kerri
...

Kerri

In general reflective practice means we can learn from reflecting on and interpreting our practice experiences. There are many methods for doing this that help us understand and sort through what we see, hear, smell, and feel in the present and with hindsight. Many scholars and practitioners have been using this method in recent years to improve cyc practice and advance knowledge in the field. I like to think of it as a method for thinking on your feet with reflexivity, and for later doing on in depth analysis of the experience. Meaning is made in this regard from being in the moment and later reflecting on it. I like to sketch out my experiences and then interpret them in relationship to what I have learned from the literature in our field and other fields. This deepens my understanding of the work. Make any sense?

Mark Krueger
...

There are books and articles on reflective practice, including:

Schön, Donald A. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Aldershot: Ashgate/Arena. 1991

Martyn, Helen. Developing reflective practice: making sense of social work in a world of change. Bristol : Policy Press & NISW. 2000

Ruch, Gillian. Relationship-based practice and reflective practice: holistic approaches to contemporary child care social work: Child & Family Social Work, May 2005, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 111-123(13):

 The renewed interest in relationship-based practice can be understood in the child care social work context as a response to the call to re-focus practice in this field.

Relationship- based practice challenges the prevailing trends which emphasize reductionist understandings of human behaviour and narrowly conceived bureaucratic responses to complex problems. In so doing practitioners engaged in relationship-based practice need to be able to cope with the uniqueness of each individual's circumstances and the diverse knowledge sources required to make sense of complex, unpredictable problems.

This paper argues that if relationship-based practice is to become an established and effective approach to practice, practitioners need to develop their reflective capabilities. An outline of contemporary understandings of relationship-based and reflective practice is offered and findings from doctoral research drawn on to identify how reflective practice complements relationship-based practice. The product of this complementary relationship is enhanced understandings across four aspects of practice: the client, the professional self, the organizational context and the knowledges informing practice. The paper concludes by acknowledging the inextricably interconnected nature of relationship-based and reflective practice and emphasizes the importance of practitioners being afforded opportunities to practise in relational and reflective ways.

Ruch, Gillian. Reflective Practice in Contemporary Child-care Social Work: The Role of Containment: British Journal of Social Work, Volume 37, Number 4, June 2007, 659-80:

 In recent years, there has been growing interest in reflective practice as an approach that acknowledges the complexity and uncertainty inherent in contemporary social work practice. Whilst attention has been paid to how reflective practice is defined and understood, less consideration has been given to the conditions that facilitate its development. Drawing on recent doctoral research, this paper suggests that a particular type of reflective practice—holistic reflective practice—has the potential to encourage thoughtful and creative practice capable of addressing the challenges of contemporary child-care practice. Findings from this research indicate that for holistic reflective practice to be facilitated, the interdependence of the practitioner, team and organizational contexts needs to be recognized. Practitioners need to work within safe containing contexts characterized by: clear organizational and professional boundaries; multifaceted reflective forums; collaborative and communicative working practices; and open and ‘contextually connected’
managers. Drawing on these findings and theorizing them in relation to Bion’s concept of containment, the paper concludes by proposing a model of containment for the promotion of reflective practice.

Hope this helps,

Alan Macquarrie
...

Kerri,

I am a student in Applied Developmental Psychology and have had a lot of experience both learning about reflective practice and how to do it and putting it into practice myself. In my previous classes we would discuss and weekly reflect on situations and issues throughout the week at the child care centers where we worked/interned. We would write a short informal paper about what happened and how we felt about it and what we should do about the situation/issue and draw from our past experiences and knowledge in order to figure out how to best approach the situation. Often this requires working through our own judgements and personal biases and thus causing us to reflect on ourselves. This practice requires us to constantly evaluate where we are professionally and emotionally in our everyday experiences with fellow care givers and the children. When we continuously reflect on events and our actions, we are better able to determine what we need to change or improve to be the best we can be for the children and ourselves.

Hannah Garard
...

Hi Kerri,

Reflective practice is about cultivating the ability to be self aware and understand your frame of reference in the context of the work you do with children and/or youth. It does not necessarily mean that you need to reflect in the moment, but to process those interactions after the fact and take what you have learned from your own actions, feelings, or thoughts into the next interaction to become a stronger practitioner. Think about it as a pyramid and on the end of each point there is knowledge, skills, and self.

Those are the things you should make an effort to reflect on and how they relate to each other in your day to day practice. I hope that helps clarify it for you.

Jillian Viens
...

Hi Kerri,

In my experience as a student this is something that we talk about a lot.

As a practioner it is important to think about what we do but I don't think that it has to be while we are doing. Reflective refers to looking back at what we have done and thinking about what we did that works and what we did that didn't work. This is such an important part of our job as youth workers so that we can be sure to fine tune our skills. The other important part of this is to remember that not all situations are the same and what may have work for one may not work for another.

Another way to look at reflective practice is to spend time observing others in their work. You can reflect on their actions and this can also help you to develop your skills.

I hope that I helped. Best of luck!

Beth
...

Hi Kerri

Good question ! For me reflective practice refers to the time I take after an interaction with a youth, team member, other professional, community member, etc., when I am calm. I use my drive home from work, while walking or journaling to review, how did I feel in the moment, did I take the time to really hear what was being said (verbally/body language), what needs were being expressed, did I meet the need in a manner/level appropriate for where that individual is at in their learning, do I need to revisit the issue or pass it on to another co-worker for follow up, where could I have improved...... It does take time but the act of reflection is a great way to develop your skills as a YCW and human being. Reflection for me also ensures that I don't leave matters unattended to build up and become a negative feeling or view on a particular behaviour or person. Reflection takes time and practice, is a unique process but well worth the effort.

Charlene Snell-Pickrem
...

Kerri,

Reflective practice basically means being able to look back on your work so that you are able to learn from it. By being able to use this method in the workplace, you can improve upon what seems to be working with the students and replace those that aren't with new teaching strategies. I look at it as simply learning from mistakes. It is a great tool to use throughout your career.

Casandra
...

Hi Kerri,

Reflective practice simply means thinking about what you do – there are many ways in which you can do this and I have copied a template for you below which may help. You can do it yourself, using things like the template as a prompt; you can look at specific incidents that happen and analyse them afterwards looking at what happened, what were the consequences; what could I have done differently? And what will I do if it happens again, do I need to gain new knowledge to help me improve. If you want more info let me know.

Imelda Graham

Template:
THINKING ABOUT WHAT I DO
(PROMPTS TO HELP THOUGHTS ABOUT MYTSELF AND MY WORK)

Today/this week ……..

I noticed…………………………..

I wondered how I could do …………………….better

I tried……………………..

I learnt………………………

I didn’t understand……………

I wasn’t happy about…………….

It occurred to me that ……………

I wondered who could help me to ……………………

I want to find out more about …………………..

I felt …………….. a lot of the time

I…………………………………..

I…………………………….

Tomorrow/next week ……….

I will try out………………………………..

I will look up on the internet…………………

I will read…………………………….

I will watch………………………………

I will ask ……………. about ……………………..

I will show…………………………………….

I will explain……………to …………………….

I will tell………………………………………

I will think about ……………………………………

I will learn………………………….

I will not be afraid to …………………………….

________

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