A Space for Reflection

Life can be frantic. We have our home lives, our relationships – catering for our own needs and others’. We have our teaching lives – often hectic and pressurised – and we find ourselves in what Marion Dadds (2001) called ‘the hurry-along’ curriculum. We remember being told in college that ‘reflection is essential for good teaching’. We probably all agree at some tacit level with that statement. And yet there seems to be no time, no space, no opportunity to do so.

In this blog we hope to provide a space for reflection.

Please go to the NEARI Members’ Musings Page to add to the discussions.

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16 comments on “A Space for Reflection
  1. Many thanks for this space for reflection. On Sunday evenings I participate in a community of Living Theory researchers and I’m responding to your invitation to reveal my passion and enthusiasm for learning together, for my own benefit and the benefit of those with whom I work. On Monday 18th June 2018 I’m giving a keynote to the 10th World Congress of the Action Learning Action Research Association in Vermont, USA. I’ll be bringing the 2018 NEARI living poster into the keynote and a workshop on the following day. The 2017 homepage of living-posters can be accessed from http://www.actionresearch.net/writings/posters/homepage020617.pdf .

    In my contributions to the Blog I’m hoping to contribute to strengthen learning communities in educational partnerships. Love Jack.

    • Over the last 20 years, I have worked with learning communities building cultures of inquiry in my own school district, Grand Erie District School Board, and in the Bluewater School District. The group in Bluewater called BARN, Bluewater Action Research Network, started when two teachers, Cathy Griffin and Liz Campbell, in my MEd group created the network in 2011 with my support.

      The BARN group continues to support teachers to research and improve their practice in non-accredited research projects with some monetary support from the Ontario Ministry of Education.

      I am amazed and inspired by the quality of their work and their commitment to support teachers without help from consultants or university liaisons. One of the current leaders, Krystal Damm, will join us virtually at the ALARA conference session in Vermont, USA.

      Love, Jackie

      • Jackie

        It’s great to see you here. We are filled with admiration at the great work coming from Grand Erie. Let’s keep the conversation going.

  2. Hello Jack,
    I look forward to you extending your contribution to learning communities on your trip to the 10th World Congress of ALARA.

    We at EARI and NEARI are delighted that you are able to bring our living poster into your presentation and we wish you and all the attendees our best wishes for a knowledge-creating, dialogical and productive meeting.

  3. Having just really enjoyed reading your new book, ‘Learning Communities in Educational Partnerships, I am keen to respond to the invitation to participate and share my narrative in a cooperative space. I have just completed a review of your book for EJOLTs, which can be accessed at the following URL: http://www.actionresearch.net/writings/mounter/joyejoltscommunityreview.pdf.

    My research over the last 15 years has been around creating learning communities, in primary schools and now in HE. This thread has run through my Master’s and now into my PHD question, ‘How can I (do I) contribute to the creation and enhancement of the educational influences of a community of learners, supporting each other and their own development? Your book has been valuable in my research journey.


  4. Hi Joy,

    Thank you for taking the time to contribute to our reflective space, and also for reviewing our ‘Learning Communities’ book for EJOLTS. The book reflects our commitment to creating nurturing spaces for practitioner researchers wishing to reflect critically on their practice with the aim of improving it. We were able to draw on our own experience of the benefits of our collaborative and cooperative approach to our research. It is a source of satisfaction to us that our values such as equality and social justice were apparent to you, as we continuously strive to ground our actions in our values. The blurring of boundaries between theory and practice is a theme that we consistently promote in our writing and in our conference presentations.

    It would be great to continue the conversation around these and other relevant issues.

  5. Hi !
    I would like to learn from all about how to help teachers to develop reflexion concerning their work as teachers. I am comming from an experience with a Master Student who tried to help teachers to transform their curricular practice at a primary school in a very poor area primary school. However, when reflexions from them were requested about what they would like to do about their practice they asked for a model approach trainning. When that was done and reflexions from them were asked again they were mainly short sentences saying how they liked and how they understood they needed a lot to change. This experience made me think about the need for good writting skills then you do reflection. but also that there was a barrier of communication with them and the values they priorize like for example classroom control by the teacher…. Thanks

    • Hello Geitza
      You are absolutely right – written critical reflection or any kind of authentic reflective writing – demands a high level of writing ability.
      Perhaps the process needs to be modelled with them. Perhaps it could begin in discussion rather than in writing: show a video of a school practice or read a piece of educational research or an educational book chapter and discuss it. What is going on? What point is being made? Then see if the students can locate some wider educational or cultural or societal issues around what is happening or being said. Can they relate it to any educational theory they have learned? Then look at what has been learned through doing this. This could all be done verbally before making an attempt to write it.
      Even asking the Q: why are you focusing on classroom control? What are the conditions that make that important for you? What kind of teacher do you believe is a good teacher etc etc
      It would be good to hear what you decide to do.

      • Hi Geitza,

        I think getting on the inside of reflective practice and critical reflection takes a little time. As teachers, our initial reflections are nearly always to do with the practical aspects of our work, initially. I think, though, when we begin to write a reflective journal, and we re-visit our reflections on a daily basis, and ask questions like ‘Why is this event of concern or interest to me?’, a deeper sense of curiosity might begin to emerge. I think reading and dialogue could help enhance the thinking too.

        Over in NEARI, our Network for Educational Action Research, (http://eariblog.edublogs.org/neari-network-for-educational-action-research-in-ireland/) your questions around how to encourage reflective practice, without enforcing it, is our current topic under discussion on our discussion group! Please email us on info@eari.ie if you would like to join us.

        Paulo Freire (2003) never confined his questions about education to methodology or the practical aspects of teaching alone. He believed that issues of power, oppression and culture existed in many aspects of education and he sought to unravel their existence!

        Good luck with your work and thank you for connecting with us!

  6. Hi everyone. I have just completed a Ph D study adopting not an action research approach but a self-study methodology. Throughout my doctoral research process, I was involved in a self-study community of practice where we shared ideas and collaboratively critiqued our work in progress. My thesis was about a living contradiction which I identified in my practice and I aimed to develop my own living educational theory to address this contradiction. Despite the fact that my research was about me and my professional development, I can identify with the views and discussions on action research. I would love this space to reflect and work with others.

  7. Hi Anita

    Lovely to ‘meet’ you here. We four (Mary, Bernie, Caitriona and Máirín) also examined our practice through a self-study action research approach, embracing Jack’s idea of living theory. We can really identify with your statement that you and colleagues “shared ideas and collaboratively critiqued our work in progress” – that sounds exactly like what happens at a NEARI-meet! Perhaps you can attend one some day – even virtually via Skype – and share your learning with us.

    • Anita
      Where are you registered? Have you been awarded your doctorate yet? I would be very interested in reading your thesis. Where can I access it? Have you thought of working on a paper to submit to EJOLTs (Educational Journal of Living Theories – http://ejolts.net/) drawing on your thesis? Last thought – you might enjoy Jack’s new book which has just been published; ‘Living Theory research as a way of life’. You can get it as a hard copy or as an e-book from various sellers such as amazon.

      Looking forward to hearing how you are doing

  8. Dear Mary
    It is great to hear from you. I have completed my doctorate and incidently Jack was my examiner. I would love to get his book. My thesis is on Edmodio but I could send you a copy via e-mail. I feel so privileged bein part of this group and having the space to reflect. In my practice as a teacher educator, I am having lots of difficulty trying t get my students to reflect. I do not think I am explaining to them exactly how they need to reflect. I hoping Jack’s book will help. as well as other members of this group

    • Hi again Anita

      I think your reply is intended for Marie Huxtable above. Re encouraging your students to reflect: perhaps they need some guiding questions? We have several such questions included in our Introduction to Critical Reflection and Action for Teacher Researchers. Perhaps your college library might provide some copies?
      Best of luck – keep us informed as to how it’s going for you.

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