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Self-Reflection: Key to Professional Growth

January 30, 2023

Most people think they reflect all the time. They think about their day or a decision they must make. The truth is that real critical reflection is not innate. It’s something we all can learn. I believe a teacher’s inability to critically reflect, or the inability of supervisors to support this self-reflection, is often what prevents truly impactful professional development. Without that critical self-reflection, our teachers end up using professional development to simply check boxes and jump through hoops. We say the work is “done,” without any sustainable growth or change. Sadly, this wastes everyone’s time.

The purpose of professional development should be growth. As an Associate Superintendent, with diverse experience and study in this area, I’m interested in how professional educators learn and grow best, and how I as a leader can support that growth. My dissertation focused on teacher perceptions of feedback conferences. What I found in extensive surveys was that many teachers had never been observed in the classroom and many had experienced principals simply telling them they’re doing a “good job." There was nothing really concrete. Nowhere they really dug into a concept, discussed where the teacher might be sensing dissonance, and no evaluation of how teachers were feeling in the classroom. Bottom line: the responses concluded that these feedback conferences were not really effective or impactful.

Only through critical reflection will those areas of dissonance be identified. Once areas of concern are identified, educators can then collaborate with supervisors to examine what’s leading to any situation and discuss where they’d like to be instead. Through dialogue, teacher and supervisor can put together an action plan. In this way, trust grows because the teacher feels supported.

Without reflection, trust, and collaboration there is no hope for growth.

I have been working with the Danielson Group since 2006. Trust is a feature in their framework for teaching. Trust in that collaboration. And while I wholeheartedly believe in their framework - which can be applied across grade and content area - I came to realize there was still a key missing piece. Teachers couldn’t see the connection between the Danielson framework and their professional growth. Those necessary conversations and collaborations weren’t happening. I spent years using various documents and forms to tease out those reflective tools, but what I really needed was a platform that helped principals help teachers reflect.

Not too long ago, the answer landed in my lap. 2gnoMe is the most effective tool to show these connections. We can use the 2gnoMe platform to facilitate that critical reflection, build collaboration, and engage in useful conversation between supervisor and teacher. All in one beautiful place. On top of it, it’s COVID-proof, and it tracks each teacher’s progress.

Back when I was a principal, we always said about professional development: “We need a tool to track it all!” We had fillable forms, free apps, everyone doing their own thing. As Associate Superintendent, I needed to streamline all the various systems and processes and provide some consistency. Again, 2gnoMe provided this. When we use it with fidelity, it has all of those tools and resources to be a comprehensive professional growth program. They’ve been instrumental in making sure their platform caters to our processes and needs and what I’ve learned through my dissertation research in order to ignite critical reflection.

There still needs to be leadership training and support for principals and supervisors in order to have those growth-focused conversations. When teachers complete all the domain reflections on the 2gnoMe platform, and really dig into those places where they might not be scoring as high or where their perceptions and actions are divergent, can jump-start these conversations. A valuable part of the platform’s reflection summary is the teacher sees the discrepancy between what they think they are doing and what’s actually happening in the classroom. It’s eye-opening for our teachers. Where this goes is up to how well the supervisor can start that dialogue.

Instead of speaking in the old terms of evaluation, we can now speak in terms of tools for growth. Teachers who have found the most value in using 2gnoMe have made that shift. They can now hold high-end professional discussions with colleagues, principals, and instructional coaches because they have data and a common vocabulary. It’s powerful. It takes it to a whole other level when your employees feel like they’re learning and growing. They’re happier, more apt to stay in their position and school and take on additional roles. They feel valued and heard, they feel like they’re contributing; they feel connected.


How did I find 2gnoMe? [0:33]

This is what we've needed to show that connection, all in one beautiful place.

What's Missing from PD? [0:26]

A connection between the framework and professional growth.

Where Do Teachers Find the Most Value? [0:22]

Growth mindset with common vocabulary.

Adults don't learn the same [0:32]

Professional growth for teachers is not the same as teaching.

What do you prioritize in professional learning? [0:29]

Without reflection, PD is like jumping through hoops.

What's the 2gnoMe Impact? [0:33]

Employees are happier.