Thing 5: Reflective practice

It’s ironic, given that I’ve been late with both of my regular posts this week, that “time” is the most common obstacle for reflective practitioners and people who want to become reflective practitioners. You can get the details of reflective practice from the Thing 5 post on the cpd23 blog and from this helpful post on Random Musings of a Librarian, Almost.

This week’s cpd23 post was my first official introduction to reflective practice, but as I read through the post and links for the week, I realized that I have quite a bit of unofficial experience with reflective practice, both my own and other people’s. One of the required classes for my graduate degree was called ‘Managing Information Organizations.” Of all the required classes, it was the one I most dreaded beforehand. I’d never throughout of myself as a manager, and in previous jobs most of the business jargon I encountered felt meaningless and annoying, rather than helpful. Luckily for me, the iSchool had recent hired a new professor to teach the management class,and she was amazing. The class had a lot of really positive aspects, but one of the things i found particularly helpful was the weekly journal we kept. It wasn’t called a reflective practice exercise, but that’s essentially what it was: every week we wrote short entries reviewing the readings and in-class activities, discussing what we took away from each activity and analyzing areas and means for further growth. Sounds like reflective practice to me! Keeping a journal sounds like busy work, and I had classmates who treated it that way and put off writing their entries until the week before the journals were due. I managed, for the most part, to avoid procrastination. I found that sitting down directly after class, or at least the same evening, to write my journal entry helped me remember what the professor had covered in class, and while I don’t remember everything we covered over the course of the semester, there are certain lessons that really stick in my mind.

The journal in management helped me track and analyze my experience in the class; I wish that I’d decided to do the same thing with my capstone experience the following semester. This is a case where I didn’t practice reflectively and wish that I had. I spent spring semester as the Teen Services intern at a small suburban public library. It was a fantastic project, and I got a lot of great hands experience leading book clubs, doing outreach visits to local high schools, and, most excitingly, starting a brand-spankin’-new teen advisory group. I learned a LOT during the project, but I’m 100% sure that I could have grown even more as a librarian if I had kept a reflective journal of the project. Every experience was a learning experience, and I would’ve been able to adapt more quickly if I’d been keeping track of the challenges I faced. It can seem a little touchy-feely to be journaling about professional experiences, but my two personal encounters with reflective practice–once when I actively reflected on my learning and experiences and once when I should have–have proved to me the value of analyzing and writing about completed projects rather than just letting them slip away into the ether.

Because I’m not currently working, I can’t exactly start practice reflectively right away. Blogging about cpd seems like a great way to flex my reflexive (haha) muscles, though, so I’m glad I’m working on this now. I hope that when I do get a job, I’ll continue to find the time and energy to document my professional life and find ways to grow and improve.

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