- Slides: 27
Facilitating Group Reflective Thinking Using a Shared Reflective Journal Dr Jen Colwell, Research Fellow, University of Brighton
Research aims • to document the benefits and challenges of using a shared reflective journal • to understand whether the use of a shared reflective journal can support/facilitate high-level reflective thinking leading to changes in practice
What is reflective thinking Reflective Teaching: A form of mental processing which is applied to gain a better understanding and is largely based upon the reprocessing of the knowledge and emotions we already possess. (Moon, 2005)
Attitudes Drawing upon the work of Dewey (1933) Pollard (2008) suggests that three attitudes towards teaching are required for reflection, those of: – open mindedness – responsibility – wholeheartedness.
Open mindedness An active desire to listen to more sides than one, to give heed to facts from whatever source they come, to give full attention to alternative possibilities, to recognise the possibility of error even in the beliefs which are dearest to us. (Dewey, 1933, p 29)
(Intellectual) Responsibility Moral, ethical and political issues must be raised and considered so that professional and personal judgements can be made about what is worthwhile. (Tabachnick & Zeichner, 1991)
Wholeheartedness There is no greater enemy of effective thinking than divided interest. (Dewey, 1933, p 30) Dewey knew that merely to think without ever having to express what one thought is an incomplete act. He recognized that having to express oneself to others, so that others truly understand one’s ideas, reveals both the strengths and the holes in one’s thinking. (Rodgers, 2002)
Reflective Teaching - individuals • many students/practitioner required/encouraged to keep reflective journals to support their learning • Hatton and Smith (1995) provide examples of different levels of complexity reached in reflective writing: – descriptive writing – descriptive reflection – dialogic reflection – critical reflection
Descriptive writing This is a description of events or literature reports. There is no discussion beyond description. This writing is considered not to show evidence of reflection.
Descriptive reflection There is basically a description of events, but the account shows some evidence of deeper consideration in relatively descriptive language. There is no real evidence of the notion of alternative viewpoints in use.
Dialogic reflection This writing suggests that there is a 'stepping back' from the events and actions which leads to a different level of discourse. There is a sense of 'mulling about', discourse with self and an exploration of the role of self in events and actions. There is consideration of the qualities of judgements and of possible alternatives for explaining and hypothesising. The reflection is analytical or integrative, linking factors and perspectives.
Critical reflection This form of reflection, in addition to dialogic reflection, shows evidence that the learner is aware that the same actions and events may be seen in different contexts with different explanations associated with the contexts.
Reflective Teaching - group Interventions and practices have been reported as being more successful when a whole staff team approach had been taken and where staff shared similar attitudes and gave a consistent message (e. g. Baines et al. , 2009; Banerjee, 2010; Sylva et al, 2005).
Reflective team models • used within counselling services with students (e. g. Andersen, 1991; Eubank, 2001) • Anderson and Rambo (1988) developed a model of team reflection based on the premise that not knowing what to do for a client is often a consequence of being ‘stuck’ in one perspective on it • used to bring in diﬀerent perspectives leading to an enhancement of their professional expertise
Research context • 1 pre-school, South East England • children from a mix of socio-economic backgrounds, aged 2 -5 years • 10 staff, worked together over long period • all qualified level 3 + with 2 EYPs • Ofsted - Outstanding
Research process • exploratory case study, 3 phases. 1. whole staff group meeting/interview 2. practitioner team kept a shared reflective journal and audio recorded their staff meetings for one year 3. analysis of the journal and audio recordings (and follow up interviews with the staff)
Guidance As a group we had lots of discussions and thoughts…one phrase [we came up with] was unanimous. It basically said that we should be ready to change our practice (even if it worked for years) if the situation requires it. We then need to put this into practice.
How the Journal was used - Reporting Everyone (staff and children) were finding lunch times very difficult. New children- for a variety of reasons = were struggling to sit for ¾ of an hour (some couldn’t sit at all). We discussed this at a staff meeting and decided that ¾ of an hour was too long for lunch for this age any way – are we supporting our needs or the children’s? It was decided to try ½ hour lunches, with the children who like to take their time being able to stay with the group up who is clearing up.
How the journal was used - outlet • ‘ 5/10 The waste bin in the garden often didn’t get emptied, it became a bit unpleasant and we threw it out. Rather than buy a new one I fixed a bin liner to the fence, perhaps we could throw it out every day and replace the next day? ’ • ‘ 7/10 I enclosed this in our Reflective Journal as I felt that when small tasks don’t always get done, it’s easy to blame each other (irritations can stem from small things). I simply removed the source as it was obviously not needed, however I did this without including the team – how do people feel about this? ’
How the journal was used –to talk Gemma ‘After our meeting with Sara from the Traveller Education Service I began thinking about my reasons for wanting to visit the site and the homes of my contact family. I needed to make sure that it was for the right reasons and not wanting to just satisfy my curiosity. Why am I thinking of doing this – but haven’t offered it to my other contact children…It would be good to visit the site and build our understanding of their way of life and to gather some positive images (photos) to share with the traveller children (and all of the other children) at nursery…’ Craig ‘…the inclusive practice we are working at is equalities and anti-bias work and to do that effectively we need to be honest (with ourselves and others) and informed – and so isn’t curiosity and ok drive in itself? . . . ’ Sally ‘I agree with the equity point. I also thought along the same lines of pastoral reasons for a visit. I wondered what the families would feel about being visited too…’
Beth ‘my immediate reaction was one of personal interest (curiosity) – is that right? I have worked in places where home visits have been part of the initial settling in period…if we are going to incorporate it as part of our settling policy –fine, but otherwise I would feel uncomfortable- curious but uncomfortable? !’ Craig ‘Home visits were often impractical in the past…is it time to look again at this? . . . visiting a traveller site would be hugely beneficial in terms of building partnerships and gaining knowledge…that is free from our assumptions/preconceptions’ EVE ‘I think it would be a good idea to visit the traveller site in terms of building partnership and also to show our support and interest…
How the journal was used - decisions ‘On discussion of the idea of moving the staff room, extra work space, grown-up area into the home room – we decided to use this book for our discussions and reflections to try and reach a decision by study day, instead of spending a lot of time on it then. ’ ‘More questions than answers let’s keep talking and sharing ideas’ ‘Thanks Sally you have got us thinking!!, we will get there in the end we always do!!!’
Benefits • supported the practitioners to engage in detailed long term discussions • as they began to annotate the contributions of others, answering questions, they also required explanation, queried assumptions, challenged preconceptions, offered alterative views • they were able to read and see how decisions evolved and developed • they have continued to use the journal
Changing practice When a group of children started nursery – challenging our tried and tested procedures and making us have a rethink. I think, initially, the majority of us looked at ways of helping the children to fit in to what we already did. However it began to occur to us that maybe it was actually our practice that needed to change.
Challenges • had to speak publically about the issue before they had developed their ideas so trust respect absolutely key • worried I was assessing them • issues over time to contribute and keep up-todate
High-level reflective thinking? • Dialogic and critical reflection: ‘Traveller Community’ discussion. • however: – took time – developed when the journal had a specific purpose – the staff team were led by the graduates and their experience
Next steps • further analysis of the journal and the audio recordings of staff meetings • considering use of journals with larger staff teams • working further on the model for use Thank you, questions and comments very welcome!