We learn everyday, whether formally through an educational program or informally through our work, hobbies and daily life lessons. As I lay falling asleep at night, the days activities flow through my mind and I may talk to my partner about things that happened or my worries, and I make a mental note to learn from my mistakes and fall asleep. That is the extent to which I reflect.
I commenced my Master of Business Administration (MBA) in late 2016, and was introduced to the practice of reflective writing. Having an undergraduate degree in creative writing, subsequent postgraduate and vocational qualifications in my belt, and fifteen years work experience - and yet, I had never been exposed to reflective writing as a tool to grow professionally.
As an Educational Technologist, I had implemented tools for Education and Nursing teachers to conduct reflective practice activities with their students. Ten years ago, these were blogs and the emergence of electronic peer review through such a tool, while more recently ePortfolios have enabled reflection and curation of a students' learning. Education professionals have long established personal learning networks, suites of online tools to collect, curate and share learning, with this concept starting just prior to the emergence of social media. I was, once, a part of this authoring a blog on ed tech from circa 2003-2007, now long lost and blogging has changed dramatically since then.
Despite this, my role in reflective practice has only been around enabling others to do it, delivering technology or talking about technology. I had never really stopped, deliberated on what I was reading and doing professionally, and interpreted it through an academic lens. The MBA has exposed me to this as an assessment, and I have been reflecting on how this practice can be useful ongoing, to develop as a manager and in managing myself.
In their article Four Reasons to Keep a Work Diary, Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer cite four reasons to develop this practice: focus, patience, planning and personal growth. They go on to quote Sarah Krauss, entrepreneur behind S'well, as saying:
"Journaling about work has given me the focus to identify my strengths and the activities that bring me the greatest joy... I have gleaned many lessons about where I can be most engaged and therefore most successful in the workplace"
They talk further about the personal growth opportunity of keeping a work diary, that the author can gain "new perspective on themselves as professionals and what they needed to improve".
These are really good reasons for developing reflective practice.
There is so much more I can, and want, to say about growing personally and professionally as a manager - for myself, and to share my learning with others for I am a strong advocate of collaboration - that I decided to create this space, Where We Gather.
Where We Gather will be a place for me to practice reflection and writing on topics that interest me, both personally and in my profession. I am most passionate about engagement, bringing people together to collaborate on some awesome thing that will make a difference. Hence the name, Where We Gather: we gather ourselves, we gather together, in physical and digital spaces, that become places when we apply meaning.
And so welcome to my journal, my reflective practice - a space where we gather to learn, reflect, collaborate and make meaning.