(242) Reflecting on a Significant Event

The power of this reflective practice exercise lies in its ability
to help us discover not only what we do but why we do it.

Regardless of our calling, we can all point to those critical (or significant) events that have had an impact on us and those around us.  Scholar, researcher, and author Stephen Brookfield defines a critical incident as a “vividly remembered event which is unplanned and unanticipated.”

A critical incident can reflect a particularly positive or pleasant experience—or it can reveal a challenging situation, person, or issue.

Whether you are a classroom teacher or the CEO of a large corporation set aside some time today (or in the very near future) to complete the following exercise.  It can help you examine and gain clarity about what you are doing in any given space—and why.

Image by: Steve Piscitelli

Image by: Steve Piscitelli

For the example below, I am referencing a campus-based situation.  For the corporate world, substitute “office” or “Boardroom” or “staff meeting” or “client’s office” to make the exercise meaningful.

Video recommendation for the week:

Reflecting on a Critical Incident

  • For this reflection, consider a recent situation in your classroom, on the campus-at-large, or somewhere else. Write your thoughts to the following prompts. Don’t edit yourself. Write what comes to your mind.
  • What method(s) of game film did you use to gather your recollections?
    • That is, how did you gather your information about the incident?
  • What took place?
    • As completely as you can remember, write about the incident. What actually happened?
  • From your point of view, was this a positive or challenging experience?
    • Does your game film support this assessment?
  • What factors contributed to the success or challenge of this critical incident? Explain as best helps you to understand fully what happened.
    • You?
    • The students?
    • A colleague?
    • Campus resources?
    • Community resources?
    • A colleague coach/friend/mentor?

Once you have a clear understanding of the “what” of your critical incident, do the following.

  • How do you know your above account is accurate?
    • What methods did you use to gather your information about what happened?
  • What worked really well—and/or not so well in the above described situation?
    • How do you know your assessment is accurate?
  • What assumptions were you carrying with you (then and now) about the situation?
    • That is, why did you react or respond like you did to the situation?
  • How can this situation/issue be improved?
    • How can you build on this (even if the situation went well)?

The power of this reflective practice exercise lies in its ability to help us discover not only what we do but why we do it.  Done with frequency, this practice can help us identify patterns in our behavior and which of our “buttons” seem to be pushed in certain situations.

We may even discover “buttons” we never knew we had.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.



About stevepiscitelli

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This entry was posted in Critical Thinking, effective teaching, faculty development, growth, habits, Personal growth, professional development, Purpose, Reflective practice, resilience, Success and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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