Reflection: Essential Practice for Growth

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By Leah Teague

What happens when we repeat the same behavior or action over and over again?

Nothing new! The outcome is the same.

We know that, and yet sometimes we find ourselves stuck in a rut and have to learn that lesson again. What are we missing? Adopting a regular practice of reflection can help us learn and move forward to make the difference we seek. Reflective practice, like Aristotle’s practical wisdom, is built on the process of assessing an experience for the purpose of learning from it.

Some law school programs, such as legal clinics, routinely incorporate reflective practice into their training. As Professors Jodi Balsam, Susan Brooks, and Margaret Reuter noted in Assessing Law Students as Reflective Practitioners:

Clinical law teachers widely view reflective practice as fundamental to effective lawyering and the professional identity formation of lawyers, including the pursuit of core values, social justice, and personal growth. Indeed, most professional disciplines, including those related to medicine, mental health, and teaching, recognize reflective practice as a core competency.

Reflective Practice: Thinking About the Way You Do Things offers a further explanation and this visual approach to a reflective practice:

For a more detailed explanation of the steps in a reflective practice, and a helpful worksheet for your use, go to Reflective-Practice-in-the-Workplace.pdf (duke.edu).

The end of any period (such as the end of fall classes or the end of 2021) is an ideal time to be thoughtful and reflective before embarking on your next round of activities and duties. The challenge is finding time in the busyness of life to put that into practice. We encourage you to set aside the time to reflect, analyze, and plan for your future.

Challenge for December:

  1. Pick one activity in your life you wish were better/stronger/different and set aside one hour to reflect, analyze and plan.
  2. Building upon our gratitude focus last month, December provides an ideal time to send a holiday message to one of your groups (students from your fall class, colleagues, family or friend group). Before sending the message, reflect on your relationship with that group and then write a message that feels most appropriate. Your message could be sharing your appreciation for that group because of the significant role they play in your life and then suggesting your next interaction with them. You might use the message as an opportunity to reach out to heal a past hurt or clear up a misunderstanding. The possibilities are many! The message should be whatever your think best after thoughtful contemplation about the relationship.

We wish you the Happiest of Holidays!


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