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edu180atl: bob ryshke 8.31.11

This past month, I have felt rushed in my work. My inner dialogue, in rare quiet moments, goes something like this, “I need to become more disciplined about organizing my work life, making to-do lists and prioritizing my projects, and then everything will get better.”  While becoming more organized might help or finding new strategies to filter out the distractions might facilitate completing all the projects, I know the internal struggle to align my day-to-day life with what I know to be true will be challenging.

So this morning I was thinking about how important it is to build space for reflection.  I have been reading, An Artist’s Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living, by Julia Cameron.  By adopting her practice of Morning Pages, three pages of daily longhand stream of consciousness written first thing in the morning, I have started to build a space for reflection.  This reflective time allows me to center myself and “see” what’s on my mind.  She writes about how the free-writing process gives the person “a window into our soul.”  It works for me, especially as a way to sort through background noise in my life.  Also, I find my creative sensitivities are heightened because I am learning to relinquish control as I become more comfortable with free writing.

Thinking about schooling, how can we structure reflective time for students so they can sort through their noise, bringing greater meaning to their experiences?  Is more free writing a vehicle to achieve this end?

About the Author: Bob Ryshke (@centerteach) directs a center devoted to faculty professional development. Family nourishes him and swimming helps him focus.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tara #

    I agree that reflection is very important and a great mind cleanser. However, most students dislike hearing that they have to “reflect” on something. I do like the idea of reflection as uniterrupted, creative free write of what’s on your mind and I feel like students would accept it more that way.

    August 31, 2011
    • Tara:

      I wonder if we just randomly but consistently built in reflective time would students become acclimated to it and learn to enjoy it. What do you think?

      Bob

      September 1, 2011
  2. Bob, this reminds of the poem you recently introduced to the EE Ford Fellowship cohort… Close In by David Whyte. I think it is so important that we allow space and time to listen to our own voice and our own curiosities. I have used journals in my classes and find them informative tools, both for the learners and for me as the lead learner. Your post makes me want to think more about whether I use journals enough and whether I allow enough time in a typical journaling session. I think I often would cite lack of time as one of the primary reasons that I choose not to journal in a given class. Maybe the gains found in journaling would yield amplified understanding and processing so that it’s not “time lost.” Thanks for the post… and the prompt to read a new book!

    September 1, 2011
    • Anna:

      I appreciate your comments. I think to give students time to reflect on what they experience and learn is so important. It is time to consolidate and make meaning out of the learning. It can help move students from doing school as “plug and play” to doing school as a learning experience. I wonder if it means something as simple as take 5 minutes at the end of each class and write in the journal something you learned today. I think it is important for them to free write instead of doing Twitter, etc. I highly recommend her book.

      Thanks!

      Bob

      September 2, 2011
      • We have been talking a great deal about how to incorporate more reflection and connection to “self.” Last year one of our upper school teachers introduced a 10 minute meditation exercise that though initially scorned upon was ultimately universally embraced by the students in her class. She gave them that space to be quiet and listen to oneself. She did not have them journaling during that time, though we’ve discussed the value of that practice as well.

        Some might suggest, “this would be a great reason to blog.” I disagree. I think there are times and places to where it is valuable to “invite the world in.” However, in this case, it is my experience and observation that we need to help our students and ourselves disconnect from others and learn to assimilate and focus within. That seems ever so much harder for them (and us) to do.

        Thanks for the post!

        September 2, 2011

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