This paper will explore the role of the director in modeling reflective practice as a tool to move a program towards programmatic excellence. Childcare directors are closely connected to all aspects of the childcare program; they supervise and support the teachers and staff and they work with the children and families. They are responsible for the program administration. They are the program manager and the center leader. This paper will suggest ways to incorporate more reflective practice into our programs at Kennedy Heights Community Center. The literature on self-reflective practice will be explored and analyzed to support the paper’s thesis of reflective practice as a tool on the path to excellence. The limitations and weaknesses of reflective practice will also be explored.
Reflection- Literature Review
In her article, Becoming a Self Mentor, Bloom states, “The capacity to reflect and engage in candid introspection is at the core of achieving self-awareness. Reflective practitioners think creatively, imaginatively, and at times self-critically about what they are doing. Individuals who use a variety of reflective practices have a better understanding of themselves” (pg. 55). If we value continuous programmatic improvements then practitioners must know themselves to effectively change and improve themselves. Teachers and directors cannot adjust or improve their attitudes or behaviors if they are unable to honestly acknowledge and own their actions. Reflection can help to close the gap between “espoused theories and theories in action” (Bloom, 2007). The best written handbooks and program manuals are meaningless if teachers and directors do not implement the philosophy and vision of the program as written.
If centers talk about continuous improvement or the pursuit of excellence but nothing ever changes then we are failing to use reflective practice to support the growth of our programs and of our profession. “We are talking about the development of a profession, not simply training in a few specific skills. The development of professionals implies, just as the concept of development implies for children, a combination of maturation mediated by experience” (R.E. Duff, 1995). But adult development and professional development is different from children. Our learning is shaped by a lifetime of experiences, adult brains are developed and the neurons are connected. Young children have a greater capacity for learning to shape who they are and who they become. For adults there are more layers of experiences, emotions, and motivations to peel away before one can really know themself. Modeling and leadership from the director is needed to support teachers’ self-reflection. “To encourage and empower the individual to assume greater personal responsibly for professional growth and change, we need to attend to the reflective activities and inner conversations taking place continually in the mind of the teacher that influences her views and...