Tuesday, 19 July 2011

CPD 23 - Thing 5 - Reflective Practice

This is the key to CPD 23 and to professional development in general. We are all trying out new things and then reflecting on our experiences. That is the only way to progress in any field.

I don't think I've mentioned this on here but I had a previous career as a teacher before I moved into librarianship. I mention this now because the importance of being a reflective practitioner is something that the teaching profession emphasises heavily. Teachers at all levels are encouraged to reflect on each lesson. To think about what worked and what didn't and then use their conclusions to improve the next lesson. This is a good example of the do - review - plan - do circle.

I'm used to thinking of reflection as an important part of my working life. I have brought that across into my new career. I've tried to keep up good habits.

The Chartership process and being a part of CPD23 have both helped to underline the importance of reflection, and the advantages of putting my thoughts into writing.

Encouraging me to record my reflections and to share them with others is perhaps the most important thing that CPD23 has done for me. I really enjoy having this blog and I've found it very useful as a tool for reflecting on my professional development. It would exist without CPD23 but the scheme has given it a greater sense of structure.

Sharing ideas with others has been the heart of my CPD23 experience. I love the sense that we are building a community here. The scheme has been quite foccussed on that aspect of professional development. The next two things are the offical networking things but really almost everything we've done so far has had a networking element. We've set up blogs to share our thoughts, we've explored each other's blogs, we've thought about how we come across to others, and we've tried new tools for sharing information. Networking, community building, idea sharing seems to be the thread running through everything we're doing.

Readers who look beyond my CPD 23 posts will see that I write quite detailed reflective posts on training course that I attend. They are all tagged as 'training'. Reflecting on training experiences is the only way to gain anything lasting from them. Obviously if you never think about what you've learnt it's a waste of time! The process of reflecting in writing helps me to think about how I'm going to incorporate new ideas into my actual practice. It also makes it easier for me to get other members of staff on board when I want to suggest something new.

Reflection is the key to personal and professional development. The alternative after all is to rely on habit or to blindly react. We need to reflect on what we're doing if we want to get better at it.


  1. May I beg to differ, particularly with the final paragraph? It depends a lot on the nature of the discipline.

    The reflective "brand" is so dilute as to be almost meaningless (a bit like "student-centred" learning).

    For an implicitly alternative perspective see Syed M (2011) Bounce London; 4th Estate. In the spirit of debate, see a more direct challenge here:

  2. I agree with what you say about teachers spending a lot of time reflecting on work - I think that's why working in a school I've found myself doing it more often. I'm not sure what the guy above means by discipline, but I think reflection helps everywhere - it's not about improving how much you know, but helping you judge where you want to go next and what you want to improve - I'm not sure I can come up with a career where that isn't important.... The link above suggests that unreflective, effective practice is better reflective, uneffective practice. There may be some truth in that, but once you are effective at a certain level, you need to get reflective if you're going to build on that!