Reflective Practice

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

Right now, the buzz phrase in my field of study and work is “Reflective Practice.”  The goal is to become what is known as a “Reflective Practitioner of Early Childhood Education.”  One who takes the time to cycle through the process of “Inquiry, Observation, Data Collection and Reflection” with reflection being the pinnacle step in moving forward for the betterment of the children in our care.

We are encouraged to first examine ourselves, in any given situation or interaction with children or fellow practitioners, before we respond.  Our task is to set aside time intentionally to be alone, or with a co-worker, to engage in this reflective practice in a systematic manner.

In fact, one of our early childhood gurus, William Ayers, describes it this way.  “Reflection is thinking rigorously, critically and systematically about practices and problems of importance to further growth.  Reflection is a disciplined way of assessing situations, imagining a future different from today and preparing to act.”  This perspective is one that can inspire and excite one to become a positive and impacting force in the lives of others and keep the individual fresh and ready for new adventures.

Further, being a “Reflective Practitioner” is a valuable asset to our work with others and strengthens our image of them as competent, capable and full of potential.  It also allows us to work through complex issues and come out on the other side with greater knowledge, wisdom and understanding.   At its most basic element, it allows us to reorganize our thinking, to look at all sides of a situation and avoid the impulse to respond out of emotion or in the same way we have always done.

This is POWERFUL!

In “reflecting” on the above, I see many parallels echoed in several scriptures in God’s Word.  In particular, we find in James 1:19-27 a challenge to be, what I dub, “Reflective Practitioners of our Faith.”  He says this,

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:  You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.  So, get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. 

But don’t just listen to God’s word.  You must do what it says.  Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

And, if you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

I absolutely love the book of James and find his words to be much needed and direct.  In this passage, though somewhat painful to hear, I see the cycle of “Inquiry, Observation, Data Collection and Reflection” at work, admonishing us to implore the Fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23, to flourish in our lives.

When we inquire of God’s Word, delving into his blessed scriptures, we can make observations of what He says to us and document our interpretations of those words in our prayer journals.  Then upon reflection of what we have observed we can then apply His truths to our lives, thus, changing us for His glory and causing us to impact others for the better.  The book of James is a great place to start and sets the stage for the direction our lives should take.

I encourage you this week to join me in being a “Reflective Practitioner of our Faith.”  Let’s be intentional in taking the time necessary to spend with our Lord, in prayer and in His Word, and working to reflect on the truths we find there.  We then must take those truths and apply them to our lives so that we can influences others for Christ.