Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement

@ Glendale Community College, Glendale, Arizona, USA

The Value of Reflection

Mountains and trees and their reflection in a lake.
Photo by Pixabay on

I just submitted my final IDP (Individual Development Plan). This spring is the end of my fifth year as a full-time faculty member at Glendale Community College. The IDP documents the probationary teacher’s professional growth, service to the college, and teaching expertise; the IDP allowed me a chance to share that information with my colleagues, my department chair, and deans. I was given an opportunity to talk about my career–something I care deeply about. For those five years of the IDP, I am grateful.

In Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success, Costa and Kallick (2008) explained, “Reflecting on experiences encourages insight and complex learning. We foster our own growth when we control our learning, so some reflection is best done alone. Reflection is also enhanced, however, when we ponder our learning with others.” Writing about my experiences–going to InstructureCon, OLC, conducting workshops, presenting at conferences, meeting new people across the country, having mentors visit my classrooms in person and online–gave me the time to think carefully about how those experiences relate to all other aspects of my job, including my classroom teaching or how I operate in my leadership positions.

Person typing with a black cat supervising.
Photo by Ruca Souza on

Teaching is a field that requires reflection. We have to be thoughtful about how we instruct students and evaluate whether or not they are learning. Discussing with our peers can be an important mode of reflection. My colleagues, even those not my “official” mentors, have always been generous with their time and let me think through ideas with them. My collaborative relationships involve reflection and include layers of richness. “Ponder[ing] [my] learning with others” is a part of my career that continues to benefit me even as I enter my 29th year of teaching.

As I move forward without doing a required IDP, my challenge–and the challenge of those who will join me in receiving appointive status this year–will be to foster reflection, to take the time to slow down and think in order to learn, to remain in “control” of my learning. I will continue to seek out collaboration and to rely on the generosity and expertise of my colleagues.  I hope I can provide the same support to others as my mentors did for me.

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