Overview and purpose
This technique (which is based on an original idea by Penny Clayton) addresses the following challenge:
How can I reflect in a structured and balanced way on my practice and plan for the future?
- Develop your reflective practice
- Evaluate more objectively the outcomes of a lesson, process or project
- Enter a more resourceful state of mind
- Identify actions for the future.
How it works
The tool helps you to manage the process of reflection to make sure it is both balanced and resourceful. It makes the steps of evaluative thinking explicit, so is particularly appropriate for developing evaluation skills and reflective practice. The tool encourages you to undertake a positive and realistic review of your work, rather than casting aside good ideas simply because they did not work the first time they were used. The tool can be used flexibly; a reflection could take as little as ten minutes, or could be a more lengthy, in-depth exercise – if time allows. It can be used by an individual working alone, or in a group situation, although in this article the emphasis is on the former.
The essence of the tool is a six-part grid into which you add words, pictures or symbols, in response to a series of prompts (see template). Here are some tips for getting the most out of the tool:
- It is paramount that you try to take the most objective view possible when working with this tool, so you should avoid blaming yourself or others for what did or didn’t happen in the activity you’re reviewing
- Set yourself a time frame for each step, in particular the successes and challenges, so you can avoid being too positive or (more likely) too negative about the activity you’re reviewing (e.g. five minutes for each sector)
- Finish the review by going back to your key successes and celebrating your achievements once more.
This process could be expanded by getting another person to coach you through your work by asking a series of open questions, once your grid is complete. You could even get another person to carry out the same exercise on your lesson, project etc. to see if they can shed any new light on your work. The logical final step in this process is to check back against the goals you originally set, and set new ones so the process can start again.