My “Reflective Practice Mission Statement”

I’m arriving rather late to the ‘Reflective Practice Challenge’ party hosted/inspired by one John Pfordresher (here: http://bit.ly/1fNo79h) but hey. I’ll start with RP Challenge #1 (of 3 so far) tonight and hope to catch up with #2 shortly. I’ll just throw down my own ‘Reflective Practice Mission Statement’ and see what happens. Over the last few weeks as I read some of the others I sort of primed myself for writing one but did not specifically plan anything out or even really visualize the character or content of what I’d do if I ever got around to it. But I was paying attention – these things get me because they really seem to be coming from people’s hearts. There are so many fascinating and juicy ‘mission statements’ out in the blogoverse to sit with (http://bit.ly/1cGJk4G). And so here’s my log for that fire, fresh from the heart, in poem-ish form:

***

I reflect simply to create a gap.

A gap between my mind..>..and..<..my actions

A gap where there is time and space

Time = in which I can rest, feel, and think

Space = in which I can see, sort, and shift

Without this gap I’m  just karmic kollision-kourse roadkill

There’s no reflection pressed up squashed up face to mirror overzealously eager to inspect

What I want to make sure of is that space – that it’s there, that I don’t fill it, kill it, or chill it

That I gift myself that gap > the time and the space to do WHATEVER

With the goal of teaching better, learning better, living better, loving better

In the gap there’s an essential, vital separation  – the one between mind & action

But in the teaching/learning/living/loving…there aren’t borders n boundaries n separateness

That’s all one thing

I see that

From this gap I made….

***

Click the image to hear the mission statement…

Reflective Practice Mission Statement – Spoken Word

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8 Responses to My “Reflective Practice Mission Statement”

  1. haeundaelife says:

    I love the inventiveness and straightforward approach to your mission statement.

    I think your focus on space is critical, and it (space, or rather creating space, the right space) is a central tenant behind reflective practice. It’s a challenge to reflect with it, impossible without it.

    I am greatly looking forward to reading future posts RE our #RPPLN blog challenge. Your voice, style, and perspective add a great deal of depth to the discussion.

    Thanks for joining in!

    John

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks for reading and responding, John. I like that idea of a combination of “inventiveness” and “straightforwardness”! Seems a very zen-like collocation, which, if my writing does actually embody those two things, would be appropriate here. I’d say my ‘statement-poem’ comes largely out of my experience with meditation and Buddhist psychology (the focus of my BA degree). What are the fruits of reflective practice? Is it insight, and ultimately wisdom? If so, these are the same ostensive fruits of meditation practices like vipassana in the Buddhist tradition.

      I do see my mission statement as extremely ‘basic’. It’s not even really about the process of reflecting on EL teaching specifically, but just creating the conditions in mind to be able to do so. Therefore, part of me feels vaguely embarrassed by/about it! To that part of me, ‘basic’ = simple, even simplistic. The fact is, more often than not I’ve NOT reflected at all. It’s not been a matter of not reflecting enough, but not reflecting at all. No matter how much I’ve read about it, talked about it, and done it during certain periods…I can honestly say it has not (yet) become ‘second nature’ or even a strong, established habit (over ten years later).

      This is similar to the place of meditation practice in my life. Despite the fact that I spent the majority of my time between the ages of 19 & 24 in meditation retreat environments and reading a whole library about it…meditation, too, doesn’t come automatically.

      So my RP mission statement is focused on the very first BASIC step, a psychological step of making a mindful move towards self-awareness and reflective effort instead of…what?…instead of acting out of pure instinct/habit sans the feedback that conditions it. It’s the same step that I (very viscerally) experience as the ‘hoop’ I need to jump through in order to get into a meditative state. Perhaps this is so visceral to me (and difficult for me, often) because of ADD.

      When I wrote ‘WHATEVER’ I was conscious of the fact that it sounds offhanded, or even dismissive, of what my reflective practice(s) is/are. But I think what I’m signaling to myself there is to PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST (the inability to consistently do this is the hallmark of ADD) and be honest with myself that no matter how much I know and think about RP, the reality is I haven’t been creating enough space, enough gaps, in order to really work with specifics and grapple with full cycles. So, for me, I have to stick with laying the ground, setting up the conditions, just ‘flipping the switch’ to make reflection an option.

      Getting back to Zen, wasn’t it Sunryu Suzuki who wrote “when we have no thought of achievement, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion”.(http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/zenmind.pdf). I don’t want to feel embarrassed; I’d rather have compassion for myself. It’s a struggle, always. Sometimes it seems I’ll avoid reflection simply because I know I’m opening up not a space to work with experience constructively but a space to feel and think negatively about myself. What I remind myself at the end is that the project of self-compassion is a life-wide one.

      This feels like a bit of a muddle, here – but I’ll post it and return to it again later and see where it’s leading me.

      Cheers John! 🙂

  2. Pingback: rpc2–statements and responses | Observing the Class

  3. Welcome to the RP Challenge! It’s nice to see more people joining in and I love the creative way you presented your mission statement.
    1. I love the recording. I have a hard time reading poetry, but listening to it makes it so much more clear to me.
    2. I like your point that teaching learning living loving is all one – it indicates to me that reflection is more than a teaching tool. It’s a life tool.
    3. I look forward to seeing what you do with the space you create in this space.
    Great to have a new member of the #RPPLN. Thanks for this interesting post.
    Anne

    • Matthew says:

      The creativity is my ‘crutch’ to make the really hard slog of reflective practice ‘sticky’, I think. I mean, it’s also simply fun to be creative, but it’s not just that. Some element of creativity in this, I think, keeps pathways open for me and helps me be more productive & persistent. I don’t think I’d be able to write an RP Mission Statement that had the ‘straightforwardness’ John mentioned without the ‘inventiveness’!

      Yes, reflection is more than a teaching tool, it’s a life tool. Though I want to be careful that I don’t ‘water it down’ to something akin to a new-age platitude. There’s a lot of ‘nuts and bolts’ to RP along with the more…melodic elements?

      Anyway, thanks for reading Anne! I’m getting really busy again (after a week off) but hope to find the time to traverse the RP challenge blogscape and leave responses as engaging as yours and John’s along the way.

      Be well!

  4. Matthew says:

    “I love the recording. I have a hard time reading poetry, but listening to it makes it so much more clear to me.” I’m OK with the way it turned out but if I did it over I’d have recorded the voice before the music. I did the background music first, of course not knowing how long it’d take to read the thing the way I’d want to. So then I had to rush the reading to fit into where I’d stopped the musical doodling. So it sounds pretty rushed to me, but I suppose there’s some style to that and it has it’s own affect. I think I’ll try to keep taking more or less creative/multi-modal approaches to my RP challenge tasks.

  5. Hi Matthew, I enjoyed listening to/reading your RP mission statement, and like John and Anne have both said before me, enjoyed the creativity/inventiveness you have bought to the challenge.

    As for your Mission Statement itself, I think Creating a Gap is crucial to reflection. When I first started observing teachers and providing feedback, I would watch the class and then sit down with the teacher to go over the class directly after or within a couple of hours. I found our discussions never to be fruitful and my teachers would often focus more on the negatives. I came to realise that I wasn’t providing the opportunities for reflection and we were merely reacting (both the teachers and I) to the class. By giving the teacher a day, or two, or three, they had time to reflect on the class, and our discussions were much more positive.

    I look forward to reading more.

    -David

  6. Pingback: rpc 6- action plan. one road ends, then next begins | Observing the Class

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