Engaging in a Reflective Practice

Last semester was my first term of studies in the Indigenous Community Planning concentration of the Master of Community and Regional Planning Program at the University of British Columbia. I’ve been here in Vancouver since early September of this year, studying right out of my undergraduate program in planning at the University of Waterloo. I had a lot of thoughts after my first term that I aired out in mere messages to friends who were in the same program — which was a nice way to initially reflect and help figure out my thoughts, but was ultimately not conducive to any critical reflection. So, I bought a notebook for this term to try to better engage in reflective practice. I had initially thought, maybe once a week after class I could write a couple things down about what I thought about my learning progress, course content, and other general reflections… yeah, that did not happen. But, I still think engaging in a reflective practice is important, especially to this kind of work. As I build on course content, I think it’s important that I reflect on how I feel about this content and engage in a sort of continual learning process as it might help shape my approach to planning in the long run. In any case, it’ll be healthy to write and reflect on course content and it might be funny to read later on as I engage in true planning practice. A sort of planning diary, if you will.

I don’t really expect anyone to read this, but I’m hosting it on my blog anyway as it does relate to my professional content and I feel a sort of responsibility to share this type of reflection to make the (frankly expensive) general content I am learning more accessible to folks who wish to seek it. That said, I’m not holding high standards for myself for a specific way to approach this blog. What I mean is, I won’t be keeping to a regular schedule of posting, I won’t be keeping to a specific format, and the things I share might fluctuate. Some things might not even really make sense to the unengaged reader, as it is primarily a space for me, myself, and I to engage in a reflective practice. There won’t be perfect grammar or spelling or ‘professional’ /polished ways of self expression, as this isn’t for any academic or professional credit. Aaaand frankly, I’m paying $50 a year for this domain name and site features, so I’ll be using the space however I like 🙂

I may be owning this space and reflecting however I want to, but there are still strict boundaries I’m adhering to. In no instance would I ever share any personal information from classes. I can leave those sorts of reflections to a more private space. Rather, in this space I will engage with questions like:

‘what did I learn this week that stuck with me?’

‘what concepts challenged me?’

‘what takeaways do I think are really important?’

‘what do I think was missing from course content?’

‘what should I be doing with this information?’

And so on and so forth. Nothing too sticky and nothing too deep. Just some good ol’ reflective blog content. Might throw out some entirely irrelevant things — they might SEEM irrelevant to the reader, but are somehow related for me. Like, what music I was listening to in the time I did the reflecting. Or something. Who knows. Also, I’m a frequent user on the hellsite that is Twitter, and I engage with a lot of planning-related content on there. This reflective space might hold space for that sort of content reflection as well. I don’t know!

what is a reflective practice?

The way I define a reflective practice for myself is this:

  • you engage in continual reflection on the things you are learning and doing. Let the reflections build on each other as you go, and push yourself to ask the deep questions!
  • that reflection should be intentional: you should be attentive to the content you are engaging in and how you feel about it.
  • you should check in with yourself honestly about your perceived, emotions, critiques, opportunities, frustrations, questions, and so on.
  • you should record those reflections (somehow) to look back on previous notes to understand how you’ve grown in your practice.
  • vulnerability. Letting yourself be cringey and confused and curious.
  • it should be whatever you want it to be, in the end. Draw pictures, leave voice notes, write a diary, write letters to yourself. However you best record your emotions, so be it.

whyyy do it?

  • to remember things. (I am forgetful and have a hard time taking notes in class!)
  • to acknowledge how your perceptions and opinions have developed over time.
  • to practice self awareness and honesty with yourself.
  • to continually be in tune with the content you are learning or engaging in.
  • to dig out the big, relevant, take-home ideas from the experience.
  • to make the most out of your experience, whatever it is you’re being reflective about. Yes, that includes the dollar amount of a master’s program. And so here I am!

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