Saturday, 3 October 2015

Activity 3 - Response's to Finlay's (2008) Article

Purpose of the article

This article by Finlay, "Reflecting on Reflective Practice" (Finlay, 2008), explores the ideas and debates around reflective practice, how it is currently used in professional practice and some suggestions for "effective reflective practice involving critical reflection for educators" (p.2).   

Reflective practice is complex 

Finlay acknowledges that there are many different meanings of reflective practice and that it means different things to different groups and in different contexts (p.2).  She points out that reflective practice does not work if not applied effectively (p.10) and that it is hard to apply and teach it properly as there is a "lack or consensus and clarity" (p.7) around the concept of reflective practice and a number of different versions and models of reflective practice.

Reflection ‘in’ and ‘on’ practice

An interesting point from this section is the concept by Schon (1983) about the two types of reflection: "reflection-on-action" (thinking after the event) and "reflection-in-action" (thinking during the event) (p.3).  I agree with what Schon says in terms of reflective practice developing more from an "reflection-on-action" type of reflection to "reflection-in-action" as teachers gain experience and confidence in teaching.  I can relate to this.  I remember initially as a new, inexperienced teacher that my reflections were largely retrospective and often occurred after a lesson, or at the end of the day when I was reflecting on what had happened during the day, what went well and what didn't go so well.   As I have become a more experienced teacher, I have have definitely become more of a "reflection-in-action" type of teacher in that I get a sense with how the lesson is going while I'm teaching and can adjust accordingly.  

When planning I ask myself similar questions to those outlined by Grushka, Hinde-McLeod and Reynolds in their ‘reflection for action,' particularly what is the purpose of the lesson - if I am not clear on that then my students won't be (p.4).

Reflection, critical reflection and reflexivity - a continuum  

The continuum (p.6) that Finlay suggested to differentiate between these three concepts, reflection, critical reflection and reflexivity, is very effective.  It gives a clear distinction between the three concepts.  

Whilst I have always know about the concepts of reflection and critical reflection, reflexivity is a new term for me but is not a foreign idea.  Personally whilst I know I am not a very effective critical reflector, I often think in terms of how I myself affect a situation or event.  

Critiquing reflective practice

It was interesting reading this section as many of the points made highlight my concerns with reflective practice, in particular the following aspects:
  1. Time poor - As a busy teacher with many added responsibilities it is often hard to find the time to reflect effectively.  I have to balance my life/work balance and sadly the time to reflect often suffers.
  2. Ethical concerns/Pedalogical Concerns - This is not so much a concern for me but as a Tutor Teacher and Associate Teacher I often notice that reflections made by my trainees etc can sometimes be forced and contrived.  I worry that they may not be getting as much out of these as they could be, and that the expectations of constant reflection can lead to apathy and indifference.  As Finlay points out "when required of individuals through learning and assessment exercises, reflections can end up being superficial, strategic and guarded" (p.14).
 Nurturing effective reflective practice

This section is of particular interest to me in terms of teaching and engaging students in effective reflection.  At my school active, regular reflection is an integral part of our teaching and learning.  It is an expectation that students reflect on a number of pieces of "evidence" of their learning and publish this in their learning blogs.  Students are expected to use their reflections and observations to inform next learning steps.  

At our level (primary) they are introduced to fairly simple reflection models initially (written and self/peer assessments), but as Finlay points out as the students become more confident, they are encouraged to think more deeply and critically (p. 16).  After reading this article and reflecting on how we are getting our students to reflect in our school, I think we are probably limiting our students to one or two particular styles of reflection, particularly retrospective, and written relfections, rather than promoting a range of reflective strategies to avoid boredom and complacency (p.17) and make the reflections more effective.


Overall this article has given me a lot to think about in terms of reflective practice.  It is clear that there is not a lot of consensus and clarity as to what reflective practice is and how it should be taught/used effectively.  As an educator, I know that reflection is an intrinsic part of teaching and learning to enable me to become a better teacher and learner!


Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on ‘Reflective practice’. Open University, Practice-based professional learning centre. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from

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