Thing 17: Reflective Practice

For Thing 17 we are encouraged to apply the “Cobbs Cycle of Reflective Practice”.  The process is outlined in the diagram below (taken from the Rudai 23, Thing 17 article):

gibbs-diagram
Gibbs, G. (1998) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Today, my reflective thinking post will be on the course in general, thus far.

Description

I decided that I needed to tackle a course on  technology…something that would challenge me.  I remembered seeing Tweets about “23 Things” and so I explored the various options. Although Rudai23 was no longer active or monitored, the activities for each Thing and the length of the course felt right to me. I threw down the gauntlet to myself as it were, and picked up the challenge.

Feelings?

At the time I was excited to begin this course.  I felt as if I was losing touch regarding technology and the skills required.  Some forms of tech I had not, at that point, ever used. The niggling urge to try them out was always there, but never the time. This course would require action.  Besides that, I had let my blogging slide into neglect, and kept hearing people banging on about how important a blog was as a CPD record.  It annoyed me, since I did not enjoy blogging, but wanted to ensure that one day, one day, when hopefully we could escape from this ‘land of sand’, I would be an employable candidate. So, with the added requirement of writing a blog post, I realised there can be no excuses…I would have to write.

blogging

 

 

 

Evaluation

I have had to dig deep. I confronted insecurity in tackling technology that I had not used before; faced my fear of ‘being visible’ (blogging publicly) since I don’t have the gift of the gab; also of linking my social media accounts for branding purposes.  I realised that I suffered from ‘imposter syndrome’.  Something kept whispering ‘you’re not a real librarian’, ‘you’ve used distance study’, ‘you’re out of touch’.  I had to actively work at quashing those thoughts.  Feeling very vulnerable, I only experienced kindness online.  I’m thankful for the librarians who commented and encouraged. With each Thing‘s activity, I my confidence grew. Exploring the topics gave me more insight. Finally, tackling the activity and writing up the blog post afterward, was hugely satisfying. I am just over halfway through the course now, and feeling more equipped with knowledge and experience. 😀

Analysis

Before beginning I didn’t fully think the course through.  I merely jumped in.  While that is a good thing in some ways (because in too much thought I may have decided to shelve it), I have also found it tough to stay on schedule.  Working as a volunteer, running a household, trying to remain up to speed with professional development, strength training, reading and other commitments, alongside weekly blogging, is a serious challenge to one who isn’t a natural writer. Also, doing this kind of programme solo is not desirable – it would have been valuable to share with someone along the way, to discuss various elements and to compare notes.  (The administrators of Rudai23 encouraged me and invited contact if I needed to, but that would be a lot to ask of people who are probably as pressured as the rest of us and who have in fact moved on from this course.)

Some of the activities sounded as if they would be a walk in the park, but in reality were tough and a time challenge. For example, screencasting in Thing 9. That taught me a lesson in three Ps…preparation, perseverance and patience. 😀  I eagerly anticipated experiencing the Augmented Reality in Thing 14, when, obligingly, Pokémon Go was launched just a few weeks earlier and it was on everyone’s lips. My desire to explore new things, had me looking at different AR Apps and in so doing I discovered AR I hadn’t known about and found some ideas for library advocacy, which was to follow in Thing 15.

So, I see a pattern emerging…these tasks and skills are interwoven and can be combined to equip one for more effective service to users and stakeholders within all kinds of libraries.

Conclusion

What else could I have done? Read!…more blogs linked to the Rudai23 things course…more articles on technology…more research. I could have given each activity more thought in respect of application to libraries. I could also have actively tried to form a local group to do this course together with.

Action plan

  1. Short term: to not quit, but to finish strong.
  2. Medium term: to read more on professional writing.
  3. Long term: to begin another 23 Things course in 2017, hopefully as part of a group… 23 Research Data (RD) Things. 😀 (If anyone is interested in doing this course next year, please drop me a line below, so that we can connect.

The use of reflective practice in libraries should be encouraged by managers.  Each member of staff, each professional, given a chance to revisit their learning; their experiences; their interaction, with users and with each other; their attitude, aptitude and approach to new technologies.  How could this be instituted? How do you ensure library staff are exercising reflective thinking?  By providing forms to complete? By asking for feedback from each person? How often? Monthly, quarterly, annually?  Not everyone will be interested in maintaining a continuous professional development (CPD) blog. So how?

reflecting

Reflecting by Gisela Giardino on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In my previous life  😉  as ELT coordinator, the Head of Department was of the opinion that regular observation of teachers was vital to maintain standards of professionalism.  Random, drop-in observations, was the method used.  Not popular, I know, but to measure someone’s actual ability/performance on the job, it is effective. In an office the manager doesn’t always notify people that s/he’s planning to walk the floor.  They often just pitch up to take a look at what’s happening.  I’m unsure of how it works in a factory, but I’m almost certain  workers are not pre-warned that managers observe from a window/platform above, they just do.  In our ESL department the teachers were aware, from the start, that we used this method of observation.

These observations ensured that teachers remained on top of their lesson planning and that weekly lesson plans were drafted, helping the department to run smoothly when someone called in ill or went on leave. They served to keep the lessons varied and interesting.  There is nothing worse than sitting in a language class for 6 hours of a very hot desert day, having a teacher drone on about grammar, writing, spelling and comprehension.  Equally so, lessons that were planned were more interactive, making the task more enjoyable for both teachers and students. Lastly, professional feedback was the outcome, since teachers had the chance to respond in writing to remarks on the observation report. feedback-commentsReflective thinking! From it came growth. Our ESL department was so effective, that it became popular locally and we were bursting at the seams.

Feedback by Ewan McIntosh on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

So, in my experience, the outcome of reflective thinking, especially when it involves accountability to someone else, is professional growth. Yesterday’s #auslibchat on Twitter was about professional development, mentors and mentees. One outcome of the discussion was the need for mentors, and for all of us, in fact, to come alongside the other. So perhaps we can each find someone that we can do some mutual reflective thinking with…regularly…so we can challenge our growth and professionalism as librarians.

Here’s to Thing 18 – communicating through photographs. 😀

dog-waiting

Dog waiting by Samuel Yoo on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Cheers! Thanks for stopping by.

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Author: LibSandy

Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secondis. (Endure for a while, and live for a happier day.) Librarian, wife & mother. Expat.