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 Loseva, Anne Hendler, Hana Ticha, David 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: 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? :)