Igniting a Reflective Practise
This time last year I attended a Leadership Discipline Training through Roy Group. At the time, I had no idea how powerful those three days would be and how they would affect my practice as an educator, a business owner, and essentially as a human being.
One of the most valuable tools I took away from the training was the feedback model that was introduced. It is centered around three questions which can be used anytime to ignite a reflective practice. The questions are: What went well? What was tricky? and, What could be done differently?
I came back from the training fired up and very excited to share this new model with my team. What I love about these particular questions is: first off, by starting with What went well, you are acknowledging the positive. Often times when we think of feedback it has a negative connotation associated with it. We are quick to think of what didn’t go well and to criticize ourselves.
Secondly, the language of What was tricky invites a certain lightness and in some cases, a bit of humor. Rather than, “What was bad or what went terrible,” there’s a softer, kinder tone to it.
What could be done differently really just closes the loop on the first two questions and allows one to move forward in a positive, more refined direction.
I have been using the feedback model with my team for the past year, especially after new offerings and/or events. Recently we had a new member join our teaching team. Since then, we have been meeting every Friday at 8 am for a check-in. The meeting is framed around these three questions to start our morning off.
A couple of weeks ago we came to the meeting and two members of the team said, “I think everything is going really well. I can’t really think of anything tricky.” (To put this in perspective, it snowed that week and we were only open for 2.5/5 days which made for an out of the ordinary week.)
My response was, “Ok, I think what I am looking for when we meet on these days is that we always have something to bring to the table. It’s not about being critical or picking a part what is tricky in a negative way, but it is about creating a reflective practice so that we can keep refining and rising to a place of excellence.” I hesitated at first to frame it like this but realized that I am deeply committed to growth, to evolving, and to seeing my team and my business be the best it can be. This flicked a switch and instantly one team member shared something that she thought could have been better fine-tuned.
The next week, we arrived and that same team member said that on her drive she was reflecting on the week and had a few things to share where she thought she could improve as well as what she felt was going well. I smiled when she shared this with us. It is easy to make a blanket statement that everything is going well when nothing seems to be apparently wrong. What I am interested in is the fine nuances and the subtleties that will continue to deepen our awareness and consciousness around how we show up in our work.
This way of thinking reminds me of a rather well know quote: “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” We either have a choice to be comfortable and complacent and to live in a way that feels good enough or to stretch and challenge ourselves and to grow and evolve as human beings.
What I have realized over the past two months is that I am deeply invested in creating an environment that is a catalyst for best practice. I am committed to inspiring and empowering my team to think in ways that will only enhance and improve their teaching and thinking as both educators and human beings. How can we continue to make this experience better for the people that walk through our doors and ultimately, for ourselves. We must first start with reflection. The more we do so, the more we run these questions through our heads, the more it becomes a day to day practice and part of who we are.
I was asked once if I could share my philosophy in five words and to this day it still rings true: It’s a way of life.