Sunday, December 14, 2014


 Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.
~Peter Drucker~

The Man In The Mirror
Each day of my life, I seek to become better. I seek to make the necessary strides to improve upon my life in various capacities.  As a husband, a father, a son, a friend and an educator, I desire to grow each and every day. This is a challenging proposition because in order to grow it is necessary to reflect upon shortcomings that need attention, or flaws that need correction. Sometimes the honesty that accompanies reflection can be painful to endure and life is easier or more comfortable if it is avoided. However if growth is the objective, stepping out of the comfort zone is a risk I must be willing to take,
Sharpening the Tools
The last twelve months of my life have encompassed unparalleled professional growth. A conscious decision to become a "connected educator" has allowed me to elevate my reflective practices to new heights. Weekly online and eventual face to face interactions with a global network of educators, have improved my instructional practices exponentially. These relationships formed as a result, have influenced a personal and professional  transformation. My classroom has become a community that provides an authentic and engaging learning environment for my students. Within this environment we have created a culture that empowers students to develop their own reflective skills and thus grow as 21st century learners.

Paying it Forward
Reflection has been a priority over the course of the past ten weeks that I have spent mentoring pre service teachers from Rider University.  One of our weekly exercises was to spend time reflecting on the observable outcomes of a particular day. If they taught,we reflected upon the quality of their lesson, if I taught we reflected upon the quality of my lesson.  Our conversations focused on the strengths and the weaknesses of the lesson, while looking through a lens that examined student learning.
Although the exercise was to help them understand the value of reflection and improve, I can honestly say that their reflective feedback enabled me to grow professionally and improve the quality of my instruction. At the end of ten weeks I firmly believe that they embraced the idea that honest, authentic reflection is a vital componenent of the learning process. Ultimately it is this reflective piece that leads to success, for both the student and the teacher.
Eyes On The Prize
We are living in an age of an unprecedented commitment to student centered learning . As educators it is important to facilitate opportunities that allow students to collaborate and create. With both collaboration and creation we should expect students to experience a "productive struggle" as they work to complete various tasks. The development of clear protocols must occur at the outset to ease students through the navigation process. Once the task has been completed and the desired outcomes reached, the students need to be encouraged to honestly reflect about process and outcome. Again as is the case with the adult learner this will force the student beyond their comfort zone. As educators we need to find a way to help our students embrace authentic and honest reflection.  Moreover, we will need to encourage the celebration of their success and assist them in the rebuild when failure occurs. Only then will authentic growth be a natural consequence of their reflection.
Parting Thought
The "growth process" is personal in nature and everyone arrives there in their own way but at the end of the day, the quality of the image in the mirror forces us all to contemplate, "what is" and "what can be."


  1. You did it again, Tom! A blog chock full of valuable insights and lessons to be learned. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with us. Reflection is one of the most important tools an educator can use and is often the one most forgotten. Thank you for the reminder of the value of reflection.
    P.S. I also like how you talked about collaboration and creativity...part of the 4 C's!

  2. Tom, we've spoke a lot together about reflection. I agree that it's very difficult to be honest with ourselves sometimes. Recently, I've been struggling with how to be direct and honest with a co-teacher colleague because I don't want to upset the status quo. Maybe, like you said, "...If growth is the objective, stepping out of the comfort zone is a risk I must be willing to take." Thanks for showing me this.