Growing Pedagogical Leaders: Reflective Practice in Early Childhood Education

By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. and Cindy Green, BSc, RECE. This is the second of a series of blogs written about a leadership research project that we are working on with Upper Canada Child Care Centres. In the first post we introduced the research project. In this post we reflect on reflection as an important process essential to growing pedagogical leaders. According to How Does Learning Happen? (2014) which is our province’s pedagogy for the early years there is an expectation of participation “in ongoing reflective practice and collaborative inquiry with others” (p. 17). To understand how to meet this expectation, an understanding of the term reflective practice is necessary. Schön (1983) introduced reflective practice in the book The Reflective Practitioner and articulated the need to think about practice as a kind of artistry or craft focusing on the concepts of reflection-on-action and reflection-in-action.

From an early learning perspective, professional practice includes a process of making sense of a situation, figuring out what is really happening, and making adjustments to how you practise. To do this, you need to reflect on, critically examine, and reformulate your ideas and practices, and at times shift your philosophical orientation. (Dietze & Kashin, 2016, p. 7)

This cycle of professional practice from Dietze and Kashin (2016) illustrates the ongoing reflective process.

The Cycle of Professional Practice Dietze and Kashin 2016

Throughout this project with leaders from Upper Canada Child Care we have experienced these above mentioned aspects of the reflective process. During the workshops and the on-site visits we were invited to rethink practice as we encountered some professional challenges. We are in the midst of redefining some practices and making plans for action.The concepts underlying reflective practice go back to earlier in the 20th century. These quotes from John Dewey, who was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, outline the importance of reflective practice.

We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience ~ John Dewey

The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action ~ John Dewey

Kennedy (2016) explains that reflective practice can be undertaken by an individual or a group and practised in the moment or afterwards, with time taken to think about an event or aspect of practice. From The Spoke, a newsletter from Australia reflective practice means:

  • Thinking deeply about an interest, issue, event, or practice from different perspectives;
  • Being honest about all aspects of practice including elements that are positive and those that are of concern;
  • Monitoring pedagogy and curriculum as part of a cycle of continuous improvement;
  • Listening to and learning from others;
  • Engaging in an ongoing process and not a ‘one-off’ activity.

This type of practice is critical reflection as it involves thinking deeply and critically. According to Moss (2011) the concept of reflective practice is about a rigorous process of meaning making.

A continuous process of constructing theories about the world, testing them out through dialogue and listening, then reconstructing those theories – what in Reggio they term as ‘pedagogy of listening’. (Moss, 2011, p. xiv)

Moss (2011) states that reflection is a dialogic process and cites Rinaldi (2006) who reminds us that it can involve “interior listening” where we listen to ourselves (p. 65). More often it involves reflection in relationship with others. The same What, So What and Now What? framework that has been guiding the work that we have been doing in training others in the practice of pedagogical documentation can be applied to reflection. Finding this SlideShare on reflective practice with this slide has been helpful.

The Process of Reflective Practice

It is our vision that the work that we are doing in relationship with others will continue and that we might spark the growth of communities of practice within the organization. We hope that there will be continued reflection especially as it relates to some big ideas in early learning that are prevalent today. These big ideas together create the bigger picture in early learning. We need to see the bigger picture in order to be reflective and relevant. Stay tuned for the next post where we tackle some contentious issues as we draw our lines in the sand. The reflective process of drawing our lines in the sand served as a catalyst for collaborative reflective practice. When we think of big ideas and create opportunities for dialogue we can see the bigger picture.



2 thoughts on “Growing Pedagogical Leaders: Reflective Practice in Early Childhood Education

  1. Pingback: Lines in the Sand in ECE: Where do you Draw the Line? | Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research

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