Reflective Practice in the Early years
If you have been through any kind of teacher training then you’ll have heard of “Reflective Practice.” There is great emphasis on reflective practice in education but many prospective students find it hard to do or ‘boring.’ Okay, so what is it?
What is reflective practice?
Reflective practice can be described as ‘learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and practice’ (Finlay, 2008). Based on this definition, the goal of reflection in early years should be to better understand teaching and learning, and as a result, improve practice.
There are many different models of reflective practice, however, find what works for you. Research and experiment with different models as you will find that it is definitely worth the time invested.
Perhaps the most well-known model of reflective practice is Kolb’s Learning Cycle (1984) which demonstrates that the aim of reflective practice is to gain insight from concrete experience, and ultimately, use this learning to inform practice in new situations.
Kolb’s cycle had 4 main elements; the first of which is, you guessed it, concrete experience. In teaching early years Education this may come in the form of a learning opportunity, an informal interaction with a child or even an observation of a child interacting with their environment. After the experience, you may reflect (second element of Kolb’s cycle) or make a value analysis on what it meant for the children, what you could have done differently, how the environment could be tailored to suit children’s needs or questions that stemmed from engaging in the concrete experience.
The third stage of Kolb’s cycle is called abstract conceptualisation. During this stage, you merge theory with practice, your theoretical knowledge based on previous learning or new insights from research is used. In other words, the practitioner links the experience and reflection to wider knowledge and research. An early years practitioner may make links to what they know about child development, and how children learn or a particular model of practice (Scaffolding, Zone of Proximal Development, Attachment Theory etc).
The final stage of Kolb’s cycle is Active Experimentation which is planning what to do next time, or trying out what you have learnt. This may mean adapting a learning opportunity to make it more effective, enhancing the environment, seeking out ways to improve parent-practitioner collaboration and more. On TeachKloud we enable you to reflect on your practice seamlessly, incorporating prompts and emerging interests’ sections to help facilitate reflection.