Showing posts from May, 2007

Critical Reflection

In his book Becoming a Critical Reflective Teacher Stephen Brookfield discusses what it means to be critically reflective as a teacher. He defines reflection as hunting down and examining the assumptions we have. This is a definition that makes sense and provides a concrete model to follow. His examples though seem extreme and unrealistic. He sets up a serious of "common sense" examples that he then disproves. For instance, "It's common sense that teaching is essentially mysterious, so if we try to dissect it or understand its essence, we will kill it." Does anyone really believe that let alone think it is "common sense"?

Obviously not all reflection is critical, so what makes reflection critical? According to Brookfield, two things. First is to "understand how consideration of power undergrid, frame and distort" the processes and interactions. The second component is to "question assumption and practices that seem to make our te…

Assimilation and Accomodation

Why does a toddler call all four legged animals dogs? Assimilation. Understanding the process of assimilation and accommodation as described by Piaget was like a light bulb going off for me. Suddenly I understood what was happening in the Froggy's head. As an educator, we are repeatedly told that we need to "link to prior knowledge" so that whatever we are teaching makes sense to the student. Why is that important? Accommodation.

Back to our example of the toddler just learning the world. Toddler repeated comes in contact with furry four legged beast which is given the label "Dog" Through the part of language development / learning designated assimilation, the toddler is able to make the a connection between the label and the item presented. The toddler then uses that label for anything else that meets that general description. It takes accommodation to allow the child to see that a cat is different than a dog or a horse is different than a cow or that…

Guided Reflection Protocol

What implications does the GRP have for your practice and your continuing development as reflective educators?

A step by step protocol for reflection is extremely helpful. A concrete guideline is useful for linear thinkers. The group dynamic makes the process tricky for me. Many of the problems I encounter and reflective moments are not times I am looking for external analysis. For those times when one wants or needs external analysis, the protocol is an effective method of ensuring that an action plan is created and that the reflection leads somewhere rather than being an opportunity to vent. It is not clear how the step 4 of Part One (What are the implications for my practice) is supposed to differ from Part Two (Possible Future Action).

Although the protocol is designed to be used in a group setting, it is possible to use it as a solitary individual and accomplish the same objective. It offers a framework and a guideline which can be useful. Instead of getting lost in the problem and…


This will be the new home for a journal I am required to keep for the class I am taking. I chose to place it here because I feel it melds nicely with the original purpose of the journal which is our journey in homeschooling and the class journal is a reflection on teaching styles and methods and what learning about those. All the new journal entries will have the tag of journal.

Unexpected Lessons

I suddenly find myself needing to teach a lesson I am not prepared to teach. I need to explain death to my toddler. Our 8 year old puppy has been in the hospital since Thursday. Froggy does not even understand where she is currently. How can she possible understand that she is never coming home. Simple answer she can't. Still I need to try. She needs this opportunity to form a basis. I can not damage the trust we built in our relationship by lying to her. Children learn by building associations and each exposure lets them make connections to prior learning. She has no prior learning to connect this to so it won't make sense but it will give her something to build on the next time there is a parting of any kind in her life.

Tonight, we will go to visit Tatiana to say goodbye. Froggy will come in and visit then her Daddy will take her out and I will stay with Tatiana while she goes to sleep. When I come out I will need to explain to Froggy why Mommy is so sad. Froggy …