When I was chairperson of Childhood Education and to this day, I hear the Teacher Education faculty speaking to their teacher candidates about reflective practice.  Great teachers, and professors, develop the skill and discipline of thinking about the lessons they just taught and how instructional practices can be improved.  There are always opportunities to update lessons and to create new activities that will inspire and bring deeper engagement with the material and other students.

What would it look like if we were able to engage in reflective practice as a community?  There were a number of forums recently where reflection led to plans for improved practice. There are powerful lessons from this semester for us to embrace and use next semester so we can enhance and improve our teaching and our community.  It is important that we be intentional about this work.

As a nation, it also would be nice if there was a better process for reflective practice.  Unfortunately, there are too many examples where this work has not been done and history seems destined to repeat itself in response to differences of race or religion, particularly when xenophobic feelings prevail.

Learn from History

Doug Skopp

Historians have a unique ability to reflect. When reading some Facebook posts the other day, I came across one from a historian who has my deepest respect, Dr. Douglas Skopp, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History; also author of the amazing book, Shadows Walking.

Dr. Skopp’s words are powerful and eloquent whether in person, in one of his books, in a Facebook post, or an email.  Here is part of a comment he posted on Facebook when talking about refuges:

We live in perilous times.  As a historian, I know it has always been so.  The pages of our history books have always been written in blood and viciousness.  Historians of the future –if we manage to survive these current crises and the chaos and the destruction that currently will envelope us if we do not – will never run out of any grist for our mills, recording man’s inhumanity toward our fellow man.

Still, I hope we can somehow come to realize that only by recognizing our common needs, hopes and desires – food, shelter, security, peace, a life of freedom and justice for all – will we able to find ways to love and live in harmony with each other, all of us as a responsible, respectful human family.

These are the lessons wisdom brings from someone who is enlightened about humanity and is an expert on reflective practice.  As the semester comes to an end, it is important to reflect on our instructional practices and on the application of Dr. Skopp’s ending sentence as it relates to daily interactions in our departments and our EHHS community.  This also holds true when examining our institutional practices.  Dr. Skopp’s words resonate strongly with our shared values.

I am excited about providing opportunities for us to engage in reflective practice as a community during our community gathering at the beginning of next semester.  It is this collaborative work that will expand our ability to improve instructional and institutional practices and ensure our students’ success.  It is their success that will have a positive impact on our world.

Bonus: “Reflective practice is an active, dynamic action-based and ethical set of skills, placed in real time and dealing with real, complex and difficult situations.”  Jennifer Moon


Mirror image (Feb. 2, 2012)  retrieved on Dec. 6, 2015 from:

Signs Image (n.d.) retrieved on Dec. 6, 2015 from:

Picture and Quote from Dr. Skopp used with permission.

Moon, J. (1999), Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice, Kogan Page, London.