There’s something about truly knowing who you are and why you behave the way in which you do which is deeply liberating. It loosens the bonds of expectation a little. This past year I have learned to be kinder to myself. The biggest step forward I’ve made in quite some time has been to recognise that I’m not where I want to be in some areas, that I’ve been lacking discipline and motivation, and while making plans to improve that I have not beaten myself up over it. This is kind of a first for me – which is why I see it as such a step forward.
Reflecting on your practice is an integral part of the teaching profession. What worked well about an activity? A topic? What made that lesson a bit flat? How could that situation with the student have been handled better? But it’s not just about reflecting on practice. You also have to reflect on the kind of teacher you want to be, the kind of person you are. You need to know about your own cultural baggage and how that affects your interactions and emphasis in your lessons. You need to understand your own expectations and how they might or might not be helpful.
This is a highly useful skill for the rest of your life also.
When you reflect you seek understanding of your actions, beliefs, and how those things affect you and affect others.
Reflecting does not mean beating yourself up or wallowing in all the things you shoulda coulda done. Reflecting means examining. Being mindful, thoughtful. It requires honesty but it also requires kindness. At heart you probably already know why you haven’t met the deadline yet or why you haven’t asked that person out yet or even why you always respond in a particular way in a particular situation. Reflection allows you to pull those reasons out, and in the process, see to what extent they are excuses, whether you care enough to try and overcome them, or whether its okay to take a step back for a bit. Give yourself some mental space.
It was through reflection that I realised what vulnerabilities and insecurities were holding me back. They were not the ones I initially thought they’d be. I uncovered some harsh memories that explained some fears I had about myself and how others would see me. It was reflection and realisation that helped me to take the first steps forward to changing what I didn’t like.
Reflection can help you figure out what is and what isn’t good in your life.
I think we all know how to reflect, whether we sit and think, meditate, journal, talk it out with someone, or use the time while on a run to focus on something. Two things I suggest you take into account when reflecting:
First – remember that reflections sometimes twist things a little. It’s likely that if you’re already dealing with insecurities and uncertainty then your mental mirror will not exactly show what is real. A reflection is supposed to be useful. If it feels like your mind is ganging up on you – that isn’t useful. That’s when I mind map things (because you’ve probably picked up by now, if you’ve read my posts, that I love a good mind map!). I once wrote a large mind map of all my fears. Things that were really bugging me. I then annotated the mind map in a different colour pen to identify what simply weren’t fears based in reality, what I could control, what I couldn’t control and had to accept or move past. The very process of doing that is reflection. And it’s a ton more useful than telling yourself ‘the reason you always chicken out in these situations is because you’re rubbish and you know it’. SO unhelpful.
Biggest tip – find the point where your mind wants to slide away from what you’re thinking about and really focus in on that. Be prepared for some of the big issues to only reveal themselves after your brain has been working on them in the background for a while. You don’t have to have all the answers right away. Some of them will perhaps be painful, some will come as a big ‘Ohhh. That’s why. I should have realised’ penny drop.
Final thought – when you reflect just take the time to be thoughtful and kind towards yourself. You deserve nothing less.