Learning from Teaching I: Reflective Practice and Advocacy


Reflective practice is essential to good teaching: it is based on the premise that if what we do matters to us, we should learn from it and improve. By creating self-awareness around our participation in a process, we gain insight into our investment in that process and can therefore be become more self-critical, self-assured and effective.

I won’t rehearse the topic of reflective practice as it appears in the literature on learning at teaching just yet. Instead, I want to leave you with a set of questions that you might find helpful when thinking about your advocacy encounters.  You should, of course, adapt these questions; they are merely a template to set the wheels in motion.

Advocacy: Reflective Practice

Pre-Advocacy Phase

  1. What are my advocacy goals?
  2. What will successful advocacy look like for me?
  3. How will I monitor that success?
  4. How can I best prepare for advocacy encounters?
  5. What questions do I have about advocacy, and where can I find the answers to them?
  6. Where can I find support if I want to discuss my advocacy with others?
  7. What are the things I need to do if I want to advocate successfully?
  8. What resources would be useful for me in my advocacy?
  9. If I’ve done something like this before, how do I make sure I do a better job this time?
  10. What strategies will I use?
  11. Which of my skills and talents can I bring to bear on advocacy encounters?
  12. What concerns me about advocating? How will I get around this?
  13. What aspects of my advocacy would I like to develop? How will I do that?

Post-Advocacy Phase

  1. What did I find challenging about that particular advocacy encounter?
  2. Could I have handled that challenge more effectively?
  3. What did I do well?
  4. What, if anything, didn’t work as well as I would have liked?
  5. How did this advocacy encounter match up to previous encounters? Am I learning more?
  6. Do I have new questions related to advocacy? If so, where can I find the answers?
  7. Would it be useful for me to talk my experience over with another advocate friend?
  8. Did I use resources appropriately? If not, why not?
  9. What areas of knowledge do I need to work on?
  10. What do I feel particularly comfortable with or adept at?
  11. How will this encounter inform my next one?
  12. What advice would I give to an advocate friend based on what I learned from this experience?

By asking ourselves these questions regularly, we can help to sharpen our own awareness of the kinds of conversations that are involved in advocacy, and, most importantly, make us cognisant of our own strengths and limitations so that we can tailor advocacy encounters in such a way as to make the most of our skills.

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