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I’ll be your mirror: accidental reflective practice

Posted: August 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: professional development, reflective practice | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Reflective practice is the process of reviewing one’s actions and output with a view to learning from the experience, and improving. It is a learned habit; a very valuable skill. Of course, we all have much to learn from our successes and failures. Successful reflective practitioners evaluate their work-life, and/or the ‘other’ aspects of their life, with deliberate methodology and regularity. However, people evaluate in many different ways. How an actor evaluates their audition may well be very different to how a salesperson evaluates their recent conference presentation. The motivation though, is identical. We all want to learn from our past to improve our future.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
: George Santayana.

Film star Helen Twelvetrees, ca. 1936-7 / photograph by Sam Hood. Uploaded to Flickr by State Library of New South Wales collection.

Now, I say all of this as a non-reflective practitioner. As someone who does not evaluate my learning and experiences in any deliberate or methodical way.
Or do I?
Prior to writing this post for Thing 5 of CPD23, I have never really thought about whether I practice reflective practice.

I am fortunate to have a fortnightly supervision appointment with my supervisor at work. This is a valuable time to talk about my current projects and day-to-day tasks, and analyse how recent events, meetings, and projects concluded. We exchange ideas about what he, and his superiors, would like me to be focusing on, and I talk about my future aspirations too.


As I write this I realise: this is reflective practice. The time I spend preparing for these sessions – about 10 minutes on average – and the sessions themselves, are modes of individual and partnered reflective practice. Supervision is very important to me – it grounds me, and focuses me.  Of course I understand ‘stuff comes up’ sometimes, but I really miss these sessions if we have to postpone or cancel.
Recently I have allocated an hour per week to professional development in my work calendar. It is not much I know, but it’s an hour more than I used to do. In this time I work on the CPD23 course, read library, and tech, articles and papers, and so on. (I certainly spend much longer at home focusing on professional development.)
Now I have decided I will schedule another hour per week for reflective practice in my work calender.

  • Do you practice reflective practice?
  • Any tips for how you spend this time?
  • Or indeed, how you make time to do it?


The title of this post is a shout-out to my blogging buddy ‘Chelle. I’ll be your mirror is my fave Velvet Underground (and Nico) song. ‘Chelle also loves great music. When she chronicled her recent adventures on her great indygogal blog, every post was a song title. A top idea, which I borrowed here. Imitation, flattery and all that. Do yourself a favour and follow her latest writings on indygo words.

Click play to listen: