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  • Dr. TL Means

Self-Reflection and Making Training Stick

The Make Training Stick® Team hopes that your 2020 has gotten off to a great start!  Self-reflection is the foundation of learning and development.  It is important to take time to intentionally reflect on past experiences, possibly your year 2019. Reviewing and evaluating the actions taken, teaches what worked, what did not work, and how to adjust along the way.

Self-reflection requires deliberate practice involving noticing, paying attention, and giving active consideration to mindset, values, behaviors, and results. Self-reflection enables individuals to understand what is important and focus on what may be done differently. Reflection gives the brain a chance to pause amidst chaos and allows it to sort through observations and experiences allowing you to create meaning—an important element in professional growth.  Self-reflection exercises can be used before, during, and after learning experiences.

Trainees can use self-reflection before training sessions by incorporating self-reflection at the start of the program.  Trainees can ask themselves:

  1. What learning do I want to take away?

  2. How will the learning help me be more successful?

  3. What specific questions are on my mind about this topic?

Trainers can use self-reflection during training sessions:

  1. As a feedback mechanism allowing time in class for self-reflection. This allows participants to evaluate themselves.

  2. By providing a safe environment for self-reflection. Enhance safety by ensuring participants know no external evaluation will be employed, the work’s purpose is self reflective growth, and they can select the focus for development.

  3. Provide structure for self-reflection by using some form of a map or conversational guide template to guide participants’ interaction.

  4. Through the use of appropriate tools for self-reflection that encourage thinking. Approaches include judgment-free expressions, pausing, paraphrasing, inquiring in open-ended manners, and providing data that is interference free.

  5. Mediational questions can be posed by the trainer (examples): What went on in your mind when_____?   How did/do you know that?  What assumptions do you hold on this topic?  What information do you have that supports those assumptions?  What interpretations are you making about the data?

Trainees can use self-reflection after training sessions by cultivating questions that prompt reflexive thought at the end of the program.  Examples are:

  1. What am I aware of now about myself, about others, and about the organization that I was not aware of at the beginning of the program?

  2. How will I apply the increased awareness on the particular topic?

  3. What do I need to do to guide class participants, colleagues or team toward growth?

Trainees can also practice mindfulness (attention, thinking, emotion) and take up journal writing to reflect and write on experiences to promotes a deep approach to learning, feelings, and identify areas of mental and professional growth.  Reflection, along with self-awareness and self-regulation, encourages trainees to reframe problems, question their own assumptions, and look at situations from multiple perspectives as they analyze their own lived experiences.  The objective is to create awareness that leads to more meaningful actions, decisions and outcomes encouraging trainees to recognize gaps in their own knowledge and attend to their own learning needs.

More information on additional practical techniques to integrate into training for effective learning and transfer are in Barbara Carnes’ book, Making Learning Stick  (on Amazon).

Until next time…