The Power of Reflection

Reflection is a powerful tool.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez ???????? on Unsplash

Reflection is a powerful tool. It is the bridge between practice and growth and can lead to transformational change. Most of us live through our days barely stopping to think. I have discovered that I can practice endlessly at my craft to improve. Practice alone does not lead to transformative growth. Reflection serves as the bridge between practice and growth, not transactional growth but transformative growth.

Throughout my 30s and 40s, I functioned much like a robot going through the motions of work, taking care of kids, and then doing it all over the same watch day. Sometimes, I would not even remember the drive to work or home. I just knew I got there safely. 

I worked hard and practiced my craft daily but was going through the motions. I grew as an educator and became better at my job. When I started reflecting upon my decisions, practices, and daily work, my growth turned from transactional to transformative.

Transactional change accomplishes tasks, are usually visible, and useful. These changes are important. For me, I completed the tasks in the job description: kept my students safe, taught them the correct curriculum, wrote report cards, responded to families, and much more. 

Transformative change can last longer over time and have a greater impact, and maybe even change a system. When I began reflecting upon my practices, I began teaching more responsively: creating meaningful relationships with students and families, developing curricula that truly built skills in students, and building skills that made me a more effective educator and school leader. When we can reflect on our practices, and the way we make decisions, communicate, manage our teams, and make mistakes, then we can move towards transformative change that can lead to changing systems and long-term dynamics.

Transformative changes are more fundamental changes in the structures and systems that shape group outcomes. Transformative changes can be more durable over time and have greater effects as the causes of problems are alleviated—not just their effects.

Othering and Belonging Institute

Reflection is the bridge between daily practice and transformative growth. 

  • Schedule time to pause and reflect after a project, a big decision, or a team collaboration.
  • Write down your thoughts. 
  • Ask yourself or your team some questions: What worked? What did not? What might we do differently next time? What surprised you?
  • Think backward: set intentions and outcomes before a project and reflect on them afterward. 

With any change, create subtle shifts in your practices and evaluate the impact. PRACTICE.  REFLECTIMPROVE.