The importance of reflection in relation to professional development.

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I'm on my last unit for the Level 3 Early Years Educator course and one of the questions asks me to discuss the importance of reflection in relation to professional development. I have shared below my research and wandered what other people's thoughts were on the importance of reflection. Since starting my studies, I am constantly reflecting on my practice and looking at ways to extend my knowledge and gain new skills. Can you relate to any theories?

Kind regards

There are two main theories that have influenced people’s understanding of the reflection process, in regards to professional development; Kolb’s learning cycle and Gibbs’ reflective cycle. These are outlined below.

. Kolb’s Learning Cycle:-

Kolb suggested that there was a learning cycle, which could be used to support people to reflect on their learning. The cycle includes four processes which Kolb suggested need to take place for effective learning. Concrete experience – This is doing something. In an early years setting, this could be teaching a child how to use some scissors.
Reflective observation – This is reviewing and reflecting on the experience. Which aspects of teaching the child were a success and which didn’t work so well?
Abstract conceptualisation – This is about developing new ideas. This might mean thinking of activities involving cutting that link to a child’s interests, cutting out pictures of things that interest them, that will lead to discussion.

Active experimentation – This is putting in to practice the new ideas. Carrying out the activity using the new ideas
The cycle means that once we have carried out our new ideas, we reflect on these once more and so the cycle continues.
In relation to professional development, it is thought that the cycle allows you to reflect on your practice, think of new ideas, put these in to practice and reflect on these; a process of continuous evaluation and reflection leading to improvements in practice.

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle:-
Gibbs adapted Kolb’s work to develop a more structured approach which could be used to support people reflect on their responses to certain situations, and come to conclusions about what they could do differently next time.

The cycle suggests that following an incident or situation that arises, you think about what happened and how you felt at the time. You then evaluate it, was it good or bad? Why? You then go on to analyse why it happened and what conclusions could be reached. An action plan is then drawn up.
In relation to professional development, Gibbs’ reflective cycle provides a structured approach for practitioners to reflect on how they react or manage a situation or incident. For example, a two year old child who continues to pour water on the floor after being asked to stop is shouted at by a practitioner and then cries. This incident can be reflected on using Gibbs’ reflective cycle. It provides steps to support us understand how this situation could have had a different, more positive outcome. How was the practitioner feeling at the time? Tired? Did this effect his / her response? The evaluation step asks the question if the response was the right one and if not the analysis allows us to understand why this could be and what we could do to improve this. The conclusion brings together the information about the incident in order to form an action plan to prevent this situation happening again. This could be gaining knowledge about the age and stage of development and ways to manage unwanted behaviours, strategies to diffuse a situation such as this. The practitioner may also have to think about resting more to make sure he / she is not so tired while at work to ensure patience is not affected through tiredness.
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Alex Sanders

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Posted 2 years ago

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