Reflection 8: The Reflective Journal – capturing the learning

Reflection (yellow-Dark purple)If reflection is a powerful tool for a coach and for their clients, is there a good way of collecting these reflections?

Many of my coaching and mentoring clients find the Reflective Journal a great tool for capturing and owning the learning for themselves.

We have considered already how reflecting on learning is good practice regardless of the environment within which learning is taking place. However, in a coaching and mentoring context making learning a highly conscious process is central to moving forward from where you are now to where you want to be.

For your client, reflective observation of self, and the impact of what they are thinking and feeling on their actions, enables them to make conscious what is unconscious. Once it is conscious they can use it positively and proactively – as bringing learning into consciousness has to be a conscious process if it is to be evaluated in a way that enables it to be repeated at will.

Often the learning needs to be broken down into its component parts

. . . in a similar way to when you learn a new skill such as driving a car or learning a new sport. There is a need to reflect on and practice each element of what you have learnt before it becomes a coherent whole which is integrated, internalised and automatic.

But how might you capture this learning? Sometimes just giving yourself personal space for thinking is all you need. On other occasions you may find it is important to capture the learning in a more permanent way so you can reflect on it again in the future.

A number of my clients have found one process really helpful

. . . for making their learning conscious and capturing it for future reference . . . the Reflective Journal. Although each and every Reflective Journal is very different!

How your client ‘notes’ their learning is, of course up to them. A Reflective Journal in my mind is likely to look very different to a Reflective Journal in your mind or in each of your client’s minds. It will clearly depend on the learning styles, psychological preferences and current context. For example, one of my clients doodles and sketches, another makes notes on their iPad while a third has a leather bound journal she bought specifically for the purpose because she wanted to record differently to how she usually records – i.e. on her computer.
Encouraging your client to record their reflections, in the way that works for them, enables them to extend their learning by taking it to a deeper level. It also helps them to keep a weather eye on the progress they are making – often they don’t realise how far they have come until they look back to when they took those first steps.

Many coaching and mentoring clients find the Reflective Journal a great tool for capturing and owning the learning because it gives them a way of:

  • recording their learning in – or near – the moment
  • returning to it at a later stage to deepen the learning
  • being able to keep a weather eye on their progress – as it is easy to lose sight of how far you have come
  • recognising and being able to celebrate their success – as they can see how far and how fast they have travelled

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