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How Reflective Practice Can Make You A Better Mentor?

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder and CEO

Reflective practice has many definitions, and it is perceived in many different ways. For instance, it is defined as “the ability to reflect on one’s actions so as to engage in the process of continuous learning”.

You can think of it as thinking or reflecting upon what you do/have done and take lessons or notes to do better the next time. Or taking a different approach than what was previously done in the past. It is a conscious effort and a continuous practice, which can be beneficial for professionals of any niche.

Following this practice can also give mentors an advantagous edge and make them more proactive and qualified in their work.

Let’s start with one of the most common reflective practice processes, known as Gibbs’ reflective cycle. It includes the following six steps:

  • Description – What happened?
  • Feelings – What did you think and feel about it?
  • Evaluation – What were the positives and negatives?
  • Analysis – What sense can you make of it?
  • Conclusion – What else could you have done?
  • Action Plan – What will you do next time?

This practice is labeled as a cycle because the action taken at the last step takes the practitioner to the first step, therefore, continuing the cycle.

But what are the benefits of this critical, constructive, and creative thinking process? The answer is simple. By carefully observing your experiences and evaluating them from your viewpoint as well as from others’, analyzing and taking actions, you choose to create a conducive learning environment for your mentees. With their continuous feedback and your reflections, you can steer the mentorship program in the right direction.

Here’s how you can implement reflective practice to become a better mentor:

  1. Increased Learning from an Experience or Situation – A mentorship program will always have its fair share of ups and downs. The question is, do you want to go with the flow, or stop, think and learn from experiences/situations along the way? This is exactly what reflective practice is all about. It encourages learning from all your experiences. In the long run, this is going to enhance your quality of mentorship based on what you reflected.
  1. Identification of Personal and Professional Strengths and Areas of Improvement – Reflective practice helps mentors develop the ability to understand and assess how mentees can learn and also, what are the best ways to teach them. When you reflect on your teaching methods, you can identify and address the barriers in the mentorship. At the same time, it also helps you highlight your personal strengths and how you can use those to become a better, improved mentor.
  1. Acquisition of new knowledge and skills – Through reflective practice and honest examination of the ‘evidence’, you as a mentor may find that to become better at your job, you need to acquire certain skills. By addressing this issue, you will end up with a wider range of skills and therefore, become a more able mentor with thorough knowledge.
  1. Instill Accountability – Reflective practices also ensure that the mentors are accountable for the progress of the entire mentorship program. You will be able to get a bird’s eye view of how you are progressing and what more can be done to cement the success of the program. The entire process of digging deep to make things work makes you more responsible, even if you may not realize it immediately.
  1. Promotion of Deep Learning – Reflective practice is not only about asking questions to yourself and your mentoring practices. It is also about assessing yourself from the perspective of the mentees. For instance, ask questions to your mentees to understand what you helped them achieve and what you need to do to accelerate their learning and development. As a result, you will be able to create action plans or customize action plans according to their needs. Furthermore, you will be able to come up with fresh ideas and approaches to see what works for them. Mentees will always appreciate your innovative methods.

Writing, thinking, or talking are the three most common ways to practice reflection. Writing involves writing a journal, or responses to questions. Thinking typically involves analysis of experiences to increase self-awareness. Talking means having a conversation with one or more people, responding to questions, and brainstorming on alternative courses of action.

Reflective Practice – A Never-Ending Journey

Reflective practice is always an ongoing process. Every takeaway, whether it is your everyday experiences, activities, and events, is going to help you inch towards a better life. It stimulates critical thinking, enables you to get rid of a quick-fix mentality, and opens up your thinking to look for better alternatives and possibilities in problem-solving.

How do you carry out reflective practice in your work environment or outside of it as a mentor? Share your thoughts with us. We are all ears! Check us out at: www.numly.io

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