06 Nov Reflection: learning from experience to find the diamonds!

 

As a Learning & Development professional, I am well aware of the importance of reflection as an aid to learning and, as part of any training design, I include opportunities for participants to pause and reflect at regular intervals. It struck me recently that whilst participants get in to the habit of reflecting during seminars and workshops, their busy working lives often mean that this ’habit’ is not transferred back in to the workplace.

Whilst we all know that we learn from experiences, it is increasingly recognised that we also need to actively think about those experiences and ask ourselves what do these mean for us.

As the American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey said: “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.” 

So, in this blog, I am going to share my 4 step Reflection Model which will help you to find the diamonds from your personal and professional experiences! The 4 steps create the mnemonic (memory aid) RAND as a way of structuring your reflections to find your diamonds.

Remember

– In this first step you need to ‘press the pause button’ and spend some time remembering what you actually experienced in a particular situation.

 

For example, it may be that in a meeting you attended, you came away with a feeling that some improvements could be made next time. So, first of all, ask yourself the question “What happened?”. When remembering what happened you may remember that the Chairperson summarised the key points in the meeting and there were times when people were talking over each other in their enthusiasm, meaning that some points were lost.

 

Ask

– yourself three questions:
  • What happened (or what went well and not so well)?
  • What was important, for me, from that experience?
  • Why was that important for me?

Asking these three questions really helps you to progress from experience to understanding and therefore help you to draw your own conclusions about what learning would be helpful for you in your given context.

Note it down

– here, take the time to not only think about it but capture your thoughts to externalise what is going on in your head and allow you to see it written down. I would recommend that you create a fixed place for capturing your learning and conclusions, perhaps by having a Learning/Reflection Journal/Diary. This way, you can also create space for yourself, at regular intervals, to review your thoughts and ideas and see what progress you’ve made in your thinking. This links to another important concept called the Progress Principle which highlights where you’re making progress in a meaningful way, which boosts motivation and a sense of achievement.

Discuss it

– with others. By articulating your thoughts and ideas through explaining them to someone else, you’re able to clarify your own thinking and, at the same time, strengthen the neural pathways that make deeper connections in your brain increasing your retention and recall of information. Discussing with others also has the added bonus of developing different perspectives and insights with the partner(s) you choose to share your learning with!

The RAND model provides you with a simple structure for reflecting to ensure that you take the most from your day to day experiences. All you need to do is set the time aside to ensure you do this reflection!  This, of course, is an important Quadrant 2 activity from Stephen Covey’s 3rd Habit: Put First Things First Covey’s 3rd Habit of Highly Effective People.

For example, at the end of your team meetings, you could set time aside for everyone to reflect on: what happened, what went well and not so well. Then, by discussing this within the team, you could capture the main ideas to ensure your future meetings are even more effective. Perhaps make a regular appointment in your calendar (even if it’s only for 10 minutes) and create a new Reflecting Habit by finding a partner to discuss your reflections with. It can be a really powerful way to develop your insights, skills and confidence.

Good luck with finding your personal diamonds!

 

Posted by Caroline Lewis

 

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