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Importance of Critical Reflection: Benefits for a Practitioner upon Completion

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Reflective practice is a process that practitioners undertake to encourage self-development and professional growth (Galea, 2012). To aid reflection, practitioners may use reflection models such as the Discroll Cycle (Discroll, 2007), Gibbs’s Reflective Cycle (Gibbs 1988), Schon’s Model of Reflective Practice (Schon, 1983) and Johns’s Model for Structured Reflection (Johns, 2006). This essay will demonstrate my reflectional skills using Johns’s Model for Structured Reflection (2006) as a guide. I will use my experiences over my placement hours within a year 1 class at Lipson Vale Primary School to reflect. This essay will discuss how useful Johns’s (2006) model was to me and whether it helped me to develop as a practitioner. Within this essay, I will be suggesting adaptions to make Johns’s model more accessible for practitioners. Furthermore, I will explore whether Johns’s (2006) model is successful in supporting critical reflection. Alongside this, I will investigate the importance of reflection as there are many benefits for a practitioner upon completion.

Reflection is considered an important skill for practitioners to use and master to improve upon their professional abilities (Davies, 2012). Research suggests, that there are multiple different benefits to reflective practice which include, mental health support, clear understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, acknowledgment of the need of further education and a clearer outlook on an event (Knight, 2015). Firstly, reflection could support a practitioner’s mental health as they are given time to express their feelings and concerns (Beggs, Shields and Goodin, 2011). Also, as they reflect and break down each aspect of a scenario, the situation would become clearer and more manageable, meaning they will be able to understand their actions and feelings. It is important for practitioners to reflect as they will be able to identify their personal strengths and weaknesses (Cornish and Jenkins, 2012). This then enables the practitioner to implement steps to improve upon their weaknesses. Alongside this, the practitioner will be able to recognise if there are any gaps within their own knowledge that could be filled to become more educated and opinionated on a subject (Higgins, 2011).

I chose Johns’s (2006) model as it is recommended for practitioners who have not previously reflected. Johns’s Model for Structured Reflection (2006) acts as a starting point when learning how to reflect due to the ‘looking in’ and ‘looking out’ approach (Bulman and Schutz, 2013). Therefore, Johns’s (2006) model seemed appropriate to do my first reflection as it implies that the structure would be clear and simple for first time reflectors. The appearance of the model was also attractive. The layout is very structured as each section is clearly divided for each of the cue questions. I also chose this model as the ‘looking in’ and ‘looking out’ approach would be helpful as I would cover every aspect of the situation. Consequently, this method will enable me to fully reflect on the situation and my actions as it explores how the scenario I was in may have impacted my emotions.

I will be using Johns’s model to reflect upon the situation where I was leading a group of children and they completed the work quicker than anticipated meaning they were growing bored.

Johns’s Model for Structured Reflection:

Looking in – my thoughts and emotions on the situation:

When the children were beginning to get bored and restless due to finishing the work, I began to feel stressed as I did not want to appear unable to supervise children and manage their behaviour. This was my first day of placement and so it was the first time the teacher was seeing me with a group of children. I wanted to appear capable and confident, so I was becoming worried that the teacher would not trust me if the children began to disrupt others.

Looking out – description of the situation:

The children were completing a maths sheet. It appears they were more capable than the level of work they were doing as they completed it very quickly. My role was to check the children’s work and to supervise them. Whilst my group and I were waiting for the rest of the class to finish their work, I was engaging with the children as they were asking questions and telling anecdotes. However, after 5 minutes, the children were becoming rowdy and could potentially disrupt others. I decided to get a whiteboard and pen to do some sums for the children to answer. We did this for a further 5 minutes until the others had finished.

Aesthetics – what was I trying to achieve?:

The main thing I was trying to achieve was my supervisor’s trust as it was my first day in school. When the children had finished their task, we were talking off-topic. I was allowing this as the children were calm and I was unsure of how long was left of the activity. I then got the whiteboard as it appears the lesson was going to continue for too long for the children to be doing nothing.

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Personal – why did I feel this way?:

I felt stressed as I was new to the classroom so I needed to ensure that the children saw me as a professional adult. If they started playing whilst under my supervision, they may feel that would be acceptable whilst I am leading. Alongside this, I wanted the supervisor to see me as an able practitioner who she could trust.

Ethics – did I act for the best? What factors were influencing me?:

I felt that I did act for the best as it made me confident in my ability to be quick thinking. I was influenced to create an extension task by the children’s behavior as they were becoming rowdy so I wanted to give them something to do. I was also influenced by the time as I was unsure of how much longer they had left so I wanted to keep the children engaged and productive.

Reflectivity – how could I have handled this better? What would have been the consequences of alternative actions? How do I feel now about the experience? How can I support myself and others better in the future?:

I could have handled the situation better by being quicker to get a whiteboard and create more questions for the children as then the children would still be productive. However, if I had not got a whiteboard, the children could have potentially gotten even more restless and then disrupt the rest of the class. I feel glad that I experienced the situation as, if anything similar arose, I would feel more confident in creating unplanned extension tasks for the children. I can support myself better in the future by finding out the lessons plans and what my activities will be with the children so I can plan in advance any extension tasks.

Overall, I was successful in using Johns’s (2006) model to structure my reflection. However, there are aspects which could be developed. Firstly, the ‘looking in’ and the ‘looking out’ sections should be swapped around as, when I read my reflections back, it seems odd to read my feelings before finding out about the event. As this model is not cyclical, I find that, being a visual learner, it is not appealing to look at or to understand how each section connects and explain how the events and feelings link together to create a future solution. If it took a cyclical approach similar to Gibb’s Reflective Cycle (1988) then perhaps the connections would be clearer. It has been noted that a more cyclical and multi-dimensional approach gives the practitioner a greater analysis of an event due to the flow of the model (Black and Plowright, 2010). Alongside this, the ‘looking in’ section is very brief as there were not separate questions compared to ‘looking out’. It is also brief in contrast to De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats (De Bono, 1990) as this model allows the practitioner to completely focus and deeply analyse one subject at a time (Payette and Barnes, 2017). This means, if I used De Bono’s (1990) method, the separate ‘hats’ may enable me to reflect further on my feelings as I would have been given a specific time dedicated to that aspect. Furthermore, the sub-headings for each section of analysis is confusingly worded. For example, ‘aesthetics’ and ‘ethics’ seems to convey something different. When completing this model, I felt I was constantly checking that I was writing accordingly for each section as I was unsure what the headings meant. This model has been marketed towards professionals who have not reflected before however, the headings are too complicated and academic which becomes de-moralizing when completing as their meaning is unclear. The array of ‘cue’ questions meant that Johns’s (2006) model became extremely time-consuming. Also, as there was a range of questions, some were not relevant to my situation therefore I had to pick a select few which did fit. This meant my time for reflection was disrupted as, for every section, I had to read and evaluate the relevance of every question.

Despite this, Johns’s (2006) model for structured reflection was a useful tool for reflecting. The model provided guidance from the ‘cue’ questions. Each section had multiple questions which meant I was thoroughly exploring and depicting the events and my emotions. Each question allowed me to unfold a different aspect of the situation and therefore created clarity on why I choose my actions. A good model of reflection, according to Harford and MacRuairc (2008), must inspire the practitioner to think alternatively and the selection of questions within John’s (2006) model creates that as the reflector explores multiple angles about the situation. Alongside this, the ‘Looking in’ aspect within Johns’s (2006) model also supported my reflection. This section allowed me to relax and explain my emotions without any structure as I was not answering any question. Therefore, it felt very therapeutic to complete as I was able to release any built-up stress whilst knowing I would be reflecting logically later within the model. An added benefit when completing a reflectional model, is the potential support for a practitioner’s mental health as they may be able to de-stress and reduce their anxiety over a situation (Saunders, Tractenberg, Chaterji, Amri, Harazduk, Gordon, Lumpkin and Haramati, 2007). Therefore, Johns’s (2006) model does act as a stress management tool as I investigate and create clarity over a challenging scenario. Johns’s (2006) model is also supportive as it could be argued that it is not a deficit model in comparison to Gibb’s reflective cycle (Ghaye, 2011). Whilst reflecting, I highlight the positives of my actions and then explain what could be improved but in a constructive manner. Debate is encouraged within Johns’s (2006) model as I answer questions such as ‘did I act for the best?’. This question was thought-provoking as, at first, I explain and justify my choices which gives me a confident boast as I understand the reasoning behind my actions. I then go on to uncover if other actions would have been more appropriate to use in the future which supports my professional development instead of feeling unsure of my abilities.

Critical reflection is the process of critiquing and un-earthing the beliefs that a practitioner holds to create an unbiased reflection (Hickson, 2011, p. 831). Johns’s (2006) model does support critical reflection as I explore how my beliefs and behaviours impact my reflection. This has been noted to be the most important aspect of critical reflection as I am able to uncover the reasoning of my decisions therefore, I am able to learn about myself (Nicol and Dosser, 2015). Critical reflection is apparent within the ‘ethics’ section as I answer whether I acted for the best and if there were factors influencing me. Brookfield (1992) explains that practitioners hold assumptions that also effects how a situation is perceived. Within Johns’s (2006) ‘ethics’ section I explore those influencing factors and debate how my assumptions impacted me. Alongside this, Johns’s (2006) model enables me to understand that I felt that way due to the specific circumstances that I was put under which is also an aspect of Brookfield’s ‘uncovering assumptions’ (Brookfield, 1992). Despite this, Johns’s (2006) model provides a limited level of critical reflection as I do not reach a point of deep reflection that allows me to fully unearth and critique my beliefs. Therefore, my assumptions still influence my outlook on the event as John’s (2006) model predominately focuses on exploring my beliefs but fails to calculate them into my reflection.

In conclusion, Johns Model for Structured Reflection (2006) was a supportive tool to aid my first reflection. When completing Johns’s (2006) model, the rigid structure meant I knew what aspect of the scenario to explore therefore I would not start discussing anything off-topic. The model had an array of ‘cue’ questions to answer and this facilitated me to fully investigate the situation and understand my feelings. Even though not all ‘cue’ questions were relevant to me, there were still a range to choose from. As this model was designed for first-time reflectors, the model is very thorough and ensured that I considered every aspect of the event. This meant that Johns’s (2006) model was time-consuming to complete however I appreciated the level of guidance as I will be able to develop my reflectional skills. In comparison to Gibb’s (1988), Johns’s (2006) model is not cyclical which, personally, I find creates a more visually appealing reflection to understand. The format of Johns’s (2006) model would be the main feature I would change to improve this model as I find that the cyclical layout of Gibb’s (1988) creates clarity on the chain of events within a situation. In terms of critical reflection, Johns’s (2006) model does allow the practitioner to challenge their assumptions and opinions on an event due to being able to discuss influencing factors within the ‘ethics’ section. Overall, I would use this model again, especially if I was reflecting on a difficult situation, as I feel this model explores every aspect thoroughly meaning I would understand the circumstances I was in and how this impacted upon my actions.

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Importance of Critical Reflection: Benefits for a Practitioner upon Completion. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-critical-reflection-benefits-for-a-practitioner-upon-completion/
“Importance of Critical Reflection: Benefits for a Practitioner upon Completion.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-critical-reflection-benefits-for-a-practitioner-upon-completion/
Importance of Critical Reflection: Benefits for a Practitioner upon Completion. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-critical-reflection-benefits-for-a-practitioner-upon-completion/> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2022].
Importance of Critical Reflection: Benefits for a Practitioner upon Completion [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2022 Dec 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-critical-reflection-benefits-for-a-practitioner-upon-completion/
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