A Response to ‘Reflecting on Reflective practice’ (Linda Finlay, 2008)
During our teacher training we are often asked to be thinking about thinking. However, when developing an analytical mindset some of us develop a tendancy to overthink moments in time. The small details of conversations can go round and round in our heads, theorising about the way in which our words may have been misinterpreted, attempting to interpret for ourselves the tiny nuances of our numerous daily encounters. That was of course before the teacher workload!
As teachers, we no longer had the luxury of obsessive thoughts. ‘Thinking time’ is a precious commodity to be used efficiently and with purpose.
We have all heard the cries of busy teachers, over worked and always on the job. But, if we are optomistic we can easily find our silver lining. No longer having time to ‘sweat the small stuff’ can unburden us in quite a life changing way. We are enbled to continue to be analytical and draw on our reflective natures, but in a way that actually affects positive change. Instead of dwelling on the negative and feeling helpless in its shadow, we can learn to consider the extensive research and models of reflective pratice. This means putting our inquiring minds at ease as what we once considered failures now present as learning opportunities.
Linda Finlay (2008) draws on extensive research and numerous models to explore the difficulties of reflective practice, both conceptually and practically.
The New Zealand Teaching as Inquiry cycle can be considered alongside her description of Schon’s idea of reflection-on-action. In practice the artistry of teaching in New Zealand draws also on Schon’s idea of reflection-in-action as more and more we need to be flexible and responsive to the changing demands of education in a complex environment.
The Teaching as Inquiry (TAI) Cycle can be a topic of controversy in our schools. As facilitators working across schools we see extreme variation in the implementation and embedding of TAI. This is mirrored in Finlay’s sentiments around the complex and difficult application of reflective practice for many institutions. Finlay poses the question, ‘How should models of reflection be used and it what context’?
This leads us to consider her how we might use the TAI model in a more fluid and responsive way. Drawing on the work of Finlay and Gough (2003), we can consider how each component of the continuum from ‘Reflection’ to ‘Critical Reflection’ to ‘Reflexivity’ might apply for different persons at different places and in different moments of time or practice.
As descibed in the post ‘Key Competencies & Me‘, I had been working on the development of my own key competencies of ‘Participating and Contributing’ and ‘Relating to Others’. Finding appeal in the ‘social critique’ and ‘ironic reconstruction’ layers of Finlay’s (2003) model and using a marae framework, I have developed a model examining the practicalities of ‘reflection’ alongside collaborative and transformative ‘critical reflection’ with the overarching goal of ‘reflexivity’ grounded a context I can own and realate to.
Each type of reflective practice shown would be drawn on dependant on the need of the individual or institution. The tools and ways of reflecting are symbolised as support for these practices in their representation as paepae, amo, maihi and tekoteko. The concept of the wharenui helps to remind us that everything we do is culturally embedded and that a consideration of social justice is importatnt in all professional practice.