Community Development Practice Hub

Community Development Practice Hub

The Community Development Practice Hub is a resource for people and organisations who ‘work with’ people in Birmingham so they can take collective action to make changes to things that are important to them and their communities. 

We aim to connect, inspire and upskill community development practitioners across Birmingham.

Come join us on this exciting journey, as we collaborate with the sector to offer a tailored approach with a focus on Birmingham-specific learning, challenges, and achievements.  

Reflective Practice is a modern term for assessing your own thoughts and actions, and is based on ancient methods of self-improvement. It is an adaptable process that you can tailor to suit your needs, and is often used for learning and personal development.

It is a set of ideas with accessible frameworks that can be used alongside many other concepts for learning, personal development, and self-improvement. For many people it is a natural and intuitive process.

Reflective Practice has many advantages. It is a really useful process for community development practitioners, as it offers time to look around, think about, reflect on and analyse your work and the actions of those you work with in communities. It helps when building and maintaining positive relationships, as reflection supports the development of emotional intelligence, particularly if you reflect on feelings, reactions and behaviours. Reflective Practice can also help reduce emotional bias.

“the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning..." Donald Schon

The Benefits

Reflective Practice enables:

  • Future personal growth
  • You to assess how you think and feel about yourself and current situations
  • You to assess how you think and feel about yourself and situations in the past

Why should you reflect?

Reflective Practice is a valuable tool for:

  • Continuing Professional development
  • Managing Conflict
  • Improving your relationships
  • Using insights and learning from your past
  • Assessing where you are now
  • Improving emotional intelligence 
  • Mediation
  • Stress-reduction and management
  • Managing change
  • Improving your present and future performance at work
  • Self-motivation

Models of Reflection

There are numerous models that can help add structure to the process of reflection. If new to the concept, try using the Simple Model which offers a simple and memorable and very flexible process for using Reflective Practice.  The Simple or ‘What Model’ model was developed by John Driscoll in the mid-1990s. Driscoll based his model of the ‘3 What's’ on the key questions asked by Terry Borton in the 1970s.

What? So what? Now what?

The Simple Model 

Another easy to use model is the 'Weather Model', developed by social work students and Siobhan Maclean in 2016. The model uses the weather as a metaphor for different elements of reflective practice.

The Weather Model

You could also google these other well known models, there are lots of free resources that will help you to apply them.

The REFLECT Model (Linda Lawrence-Wilkes)

Bloom’s Taxonomy (Benjamin Bloom)

Johns' Model (Christopher Johns)

Experiential Learning Cycle (David A. Kolb)

The Reflective Cycle Model (Graham Gibbs)

Reflection in Practice

Reflection is a process undertaken by you, for you. So, capturing reflections needs to work for you. You might keep a journal or diary, use post-it notes, sketch or doodle, make voice notes or videos on your phone. It about collecting and keeping useful evidence for you to look back on as needed, it’s not about generating massive amounts of materials.

Reflection offers to opportunity to be honest with yourselves, which can sometimes be uncomfortable. Don’t be put off, as being aware of why we do things the way we do, and get things wrong sometimes is key to improving practice.

Things to think about when recording:

  • Use a reflective model that works for you to structure your reflections
  • Record your thoughts when your are in relaxed state of mind
  • Try to record soon after an event/activity, but leave some time if a stressful/emotional situation
  • If writing, use a style that works for you. You could even use prose or poetry.
  • Anonymise if possible, and avoid negative and personal comments about other people
  • Don’t just record what happened, remember to evaluate the experience and draw conclusions
  • You can share and talk through with others if helpful

Making Time

Very few organisations offer staff or volunteers time for reflection, especially when pressure on services and demands on staff time is growing. You could discuss with your manager about taking some quiet time each week to reflect as a means to improve practice. However, encouraging yourself to develop a reflection routine is essential.

Schedule time into your day to reflect, and try using the different models to see what works best for you. It could be on public transport, when walking the dog, or in a quite space of your choosing. It could be towards the end of the day, first thing in the morning. Exactly when and how you reflect will depend on your circumstances.

There is no set way to reflect and you should adapt the models to suit your learning style, role and environment. Some people find time each week, while some put time aside daily. You don't need to spend a long time reflecting but try to make it a regular activity.

So, in summary, try to form a reflective habit!

A good resource for more in-depth learning is 
A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice
Moon, Jennifer A. (2004)