Reflective Practice Mission Statement: Self and Community

Before sharing my reflective practice (RP) mission statements (yes, there are two), a bit of gratitude and history. I want to thank John Pfodresher for putting the RP challenge out there. It has been inspiring to see all the responses (Ann LosevaAnne HendlerHana TichaDavid Harbinson and Rose Bard), and it was just the reflective boost I needed to get ready for the new semester. Also, a big thank you to Anne H. for laying out what exactly entails a mission statement. As I wrote the statements below, I kept going back to her research. I’m not sure my statements meet the criteria, but I feel pretty happy with what came out. Finally, gratitude to a fantastic reflective blogger and friend, Zhenya Polosatova (I recommend reading her “25 Honest Reasons Why I Started this Blog” post. You might find another motivating challenge there.). Because of her comment on my last blog post, Compassion Training: Trying Not to Fall in the Hole, I realized that my “Self” mission statement was pretty much already done.

And now, my mission statements!

RP Mission Statement: Self

I reflect because I want to create moments that bring optimal growth for everyone, including me. The word reflect, for me, is synonymous with “write”, “meditate”, or “discuss with friends and colleagues.” Sometimes it is a rigorous analysis of a moment, and sometimes it is a playful, more organic, exploration. I reflect to get a better understanding of how I affect people (teachers, learners, colleagues, friends…), to understand how they impact others (teachers, learners, colleagues, friends…), and how that impact might impact others (teachers, learners, colleagues, friends…). This is the cycle I reflect on. The impact (affect) could be in connection to relationships, communication, language acquisition and all the other complex dynamics that go into living (teaching).  In order to do this circular dance in a healthy way, I must be kind and compassionate with myself. For this reason my reflection includes meditation and mindfulness practice. I do this because my larger RP mission is be compassionate with others so that the dance keeps going at this life-giving pace.

That all being said, I’d like to clarify that I am not a missionary of any sort. :) I honour and support all RP perspectives.

RP mission statement brainstorm

RP Mission Statement: Community

Background, brainstorm, warmup

A reflective teaching community is not something that is easy to define. It is a dynamic organism. It’s dynamic because of all the unique experiences, the creative ways of looking at a moment, the intriguing perspectives, and most importantly, the honest questions that everyone brings. A reflective community is a place where you can throw hard (scary) questions and feel confident they will find a soft landing in a space with a few answers, and most likely, more questions. At least that has been my experience with the Daegu RP Special Interest Group (RPSIG). Almost everyone who comes to an RP meeting is interested in developing their sense of understanding what is going on in the classroom. For that matter, the same could be said of my other RP community: RP online (#RPPLN?).  What I have felt within my community is what I want to bring.

Now the statement:

My desire as a member of these RP communities is to not only bring in what I wrote in my “RP Self” statement, but I would also like to facilitate a safe, open, playful, creative, and fluid space where people can bring their thoughts, fears, questions, passions, and experiences. I’ve noticed that the most valuable skill I could bring to an RP group is supporting discussions as they unfold. We all agree that we are at the meeting, or having an online conversation, because we want to talk and learn about teaching and learning. I sense that we are all on equal footing: I am not here to teach you; I am here to listen to you and to share with you. We want to grow and learn together. This will happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes it will be rigorously systematic, and sometimes it will be colourful and creative. It all depends on who is having the conversation. I want to keep the lines of communication open and clear so everyone can take something valuable with them.

I think these were more of a conversation with myself than mission statements. It leaves room for growth and adaptation. Isn’t that RP anyway? :)

Happy reflecting!

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18 thoughts on “Reflective Practice Mission Statement: Self and Community

  1. Hi Josette

    I really liked how you put it: ‘a conversation with myself [more] than mission statements’ – to me personally this is a part of what reflection is (being able and taking the courage to hear that inner dialogue and responding to it) I also like the notebook page and how you shared the actual process of creating the RP mission statement through the mind map and categories. Thank you for sharing both the process and result! A lot of learning and thinking!

  2. I’m loving these Sundays I can use to catch up with everything or something I miss during the week.

    Thanks for this post. If I ever, ever manage to get a smallest grain of your mindfulness and attitude and be aware of it as part of my *hopefully transforming* self, I’ll feel fulfilled.

    Now to the lines, phrasing and ideas that hit me:
    – the impact cycle. I believe I”m in the very beginning of understanding the importance of this. Your blog certainly is my guidebook as I’m learning (in extremely small steps) to be aware of other people and of what they have to say. Seriously, feeling part of the cycle is suddenly one of my ultimate, very long-term goals. Thank you for making it so.
    – “I honour and support all RP perspectives.” =)))
    – fluid space. This is exactly the wording I needed. Awesome.That’s how I feel the space you’re describing.
    – “I’m not here to teach you.” This sentence speaks for my plan.

    Thank you, Josette! And I hope you smiled))

    1. Smiling! :)))

      I just love the way we are giving each other the language we need to complete ideas that were already in our mind. It’s like we are each other’s consciousness! Maybe we are. Now that’s something to reflect on.

      Happy Sunday my dear!

  3. Hi Josette, I think your cyclical model of the way in which you reflect is great, and as so many others in this challenge have already observed, just goes to show how RP is a continuous process.

    But for me, I think what you have done with your community mission statement has got right to the heart of what (in my opinion at least) RP should do, and that is provide a safe environment for reflection. The sentence that got me the most was “A reflective community is a place where you can throw hard (scary) questions and feel confident they will find a soft landing in a space with a few answers, and most likely, more questions.” I know that this touches on the same area as your iTDi post from last year on providing a safe environment for feedback after observations.

    As an extension, I think that by creating a ‘safe’ community to reflect, we as teachers can, I hope, learn from this and carry over the safe environment to our classes.

    1. David,

      Thank you for your input, and for making the links to previous ideas I’ve written about. I really appreciate the attention to detail here. It’s like we’re having a long-running conversation, and I think we are! As soon as I read your final sentence, “As an extension, I think that by creating a ‘safe’ community to reflect, we as teachers can, I hope, learn from this and carry over the safe environment to our classes.”, a loud “yes!” came out of my mouth. When we feel safe as teachers, it is easier to extend that feeling to our students. We teacher what we know. We want them to have the same experience. What’s interesting, and would be a great research topic, is that this is probably true of all emotions: negative or positive. Something to think about. But I digress.

      David, I look forward to more reflecting and hope we can do that face to face someday soon. :)

  4. Hi Josette,
    I love the way you describe RT community and the reasons why you like being a member of one. I see myself as a community person as well, e.g. someone who feels safe among people who share the same interests and beliefs, so your definition strongly appeals to me.
    I also love the way you take notes before writing up a post. Do you really or is it just a nice visual? :-) If you do, it makes me smile because it reminds me that in the digital age, many of us still love grabbing a pen and paper, especially when working on something personal. Well, our reflections reveal more that we think….

    1. Hello Hana,

      From the very short time that I’ve gotten to know you (a week online now? ;)), I can easily agree with you about your comment, “I see myself as a community person as well”. Although I haven’t had a chance to comment on your RP posts yet, and your Linguistic Rebellion post http://how-i-see-it-now.blogspot.cz/2014/02/on-linguistic-rebellion.html (loved your sneaky way of presenting your thoughts), I have read them with great interest, and your joy of community comes through your participation. So grateful to have “met” you. :)

      And yes, I can’t live without a journal. I am as digital as they get, but paper and pen are a must. They are the first step to getting my ideas out there.

      And they also provide a good blog visual. :)

      Happy reflecting!

  5. Hi Josette,

    It is immensely hard to define our mission statements, and harder still to define what our reflective community is…I believe you have defined both with aplomb here.

    Thank you so much for adding your voice to the discussion. I believe your post will be of immense help to our participants who have yet to experience the wonderfulness of a reflective community of practice.

    John

    PS- love the notebook. :D

    1. I thought you might enjoy that notebook. ;)

      Again, thank you for putting this inspirational challenge out there. The discussion that is coming from these posts is the type of depth I remember craving when I first starting using Twitter (and blogging in a more public manner). Of course I found it in certain ways, but there is something to say about the directness of expressing that discussions are motivated by our interest in reflection.

      I look forward to the journey. :)

  6. Wow! Josette there is a lot happening here. It seems like reflection is part of a growing sensitivity – to yourself, how others see you, how others read you. It also seems to involve making yourself vulnerable and yet secure enough to be open and honest without being overly worried about being misconstrued. I am thinking that I only have this type of relationship with people who get where I am coming from. I find it difficult to have the deep conversations with people who are on a completely different page to me or who have no real love for others.

    1. First off, I really appreciate you reflecting back what you understood from my post. It really helps me connect to you in a meaningful way. The type of dialogue that I enjoy engaging in. You put it beautifully “reflection is part of a growing sensitivity”. If you don’t mind I might use that some day. :) Not only is it a sensitivity to myself and how others perceive me, but it is also a sensitivity to how I react to them and also how my actions might influence them in their own behaviour, all the while also holding space for the fact that ultimately everything that transpires is okay. :) This is the self-compassion part.

      And yes, there is definitely a balance between security and vulnerability here. I wouldn’t have been able to articulate this on my own so thank you once again. It is something I’ve noticed is very important to me as an educator and often something that brings me great grief. I am torn between wanting to share my authentic self, and also realize how scary that is. You know, you have just unlocked a huge question mark I’ve been holding onto. I’ve been trying to think about a paradox I face as an educator for a blog series https://throwingbacktokens.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/unpacking-parker-j-palmer-fear-and-education/ I was working on called “Unpacking Parker Palmer”. His second chapter in The Courage to Teach focuses on balancing paradoxes. Thank you Anne!

      I hear that it’s important for you to be able to share such vulnerabilities with people you are sure get you. Without the safety of this knowledge, perhaps you withdraw, or you become cautious. I think there is an important place for boundaries especially when we know that a person isn’t in the space to respect or understand us. It is risky and leaves us open to conflicts. I realize I am taking a risk in putting my thoughts about compassion on a blog. :)

      Thank you for being out there and reading my blog Anne. I look forward to exploring yours more.

      1. Hi all,

        What a fantastic discussion on top of an enlightening blog post. I’m sitting here munching on leftover valentines chocolate and feeling again how much RP is about building a community as we move inwards and explore our own ideas. It’s amazing how one fosters the other.
        I love the idea that RP is about “holding space for the fact that ultimately everything that transpires is okay.” Having that sense of security is really what makes honest reflection possible. Thanks for helping to make that space Josette and everyone else for stepping into it.

        Kevin

        1. “RP is about building a community as we move inwards and explore our own ideas.” Yes. Again, a member of my RPPLN fills in the blanks. That is it Kevin. There’s something very important here in relation to the importance of being with others in order to understand oneself. It’s another beautiful paradox. The trick is the that safe space. If the space is scary, then I can’t learn from either you or from myself. I might be so concerned with staying safe from you that I can’t even begin to see myself.

          Thank you for shining the light ones again Kevin! #grateful

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