Reflection is a type of thinking associated with deep thought, aimed at achieving better understanding.
You'll reflect within the coaching session (*reflecting 'in action') with the support of your coach, and beyond it (*reflecting 'on action') through your own reflective thinking. Both are useful.
Reflection contains a mixture of elements, including:
Reflecting in the session
The questioning by your coach, what they feed back to you, the 'coaching space' that your coach holds ... all encourage you to think and reflect, weigh up options, come to decisions, and so on. This will be supported through the trusting relationship your coach builds with you as you work together.
In sessions, reflections can be fleeting or longer. Your coach should spot when you need time to process and reflect on something for a bit longer.
Reflecting in the coaching session involves assessing ideas / options / solutions as you go along - identifying which are appropriate and which aren't.
Do you have a favourite question that helps you reflect on a tricky problem?
Reflecting beyond the session
In your coaching session, you may have learnt new things about yourself and gained new ideas for moving towards your desired outcome. But the learning can (and should) continue beyond the session.
Where do you do your best thinking?
I like to reflect whilst out walking, or make notes in a notebook. My notes will either be a free-flowing 'stream of consciousness', followed by a re-read and some developmental questions around what I've learned and next steps. Or I'll choose a model like the ones below to structure my thinking and creating useful outcomes to move forwards.
Reflective practice models
Take a look at the models, try one or both, research others, then decide what works best to continue your learning and development beyond the coaching session.
The 3 Whats**
This model centres on 3 questions: What?, So what? & Now what? (or What next?)
Re 'What?' ... Write a description about the event you want to reflect on
Re 'So what?' ... Analyse the event by reflecting on specific aspects of it
Re 'What next?' ... Identify actions you'll take based on your learning
Here's the model with some prompt questions to help with your reflection process.
Although recording isn't essential, writing things down will help you to organise and process your thoughts in order to decide what's most important and what you'll do as a result.
Gibbs' Reflective Cycle***
Here's the model with some prompt questions for each stage of the cycle. This model requires more critical analysis than The 3 Whats, and is more appropriate for a longer piece of reflection benefiting from a greater depth of learning.
In summary ... you'll be supported by your coach to reflect as part of the coaching process, but beyond the session - it's down to you to carry out any reflections.
How do you like to reflect?
What works best for you?
*Ref - Schon, 1983. Critics debate whether it's possible to distinguish between the 2 types, as reflecting in action, or 'thinking on your feet', is still after the moment of the thing you're reflecting on, albeit momentarily.
**This has been attributed separately to Borton, Rolfe, & Driscoll. Borton's work seems to be the originator of this model.
***Various sources, including: Gibbs G, (1988) Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching & Learning Models; FE Unit, Oxford Polytechnic
Debbie Inglis is a Leadership Coach specialising in Mental Toughness & Resilience. She also delivers accredited Coaching Skills Training and is a Supervision Coach. Debbie works across the UK and Internationally with leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more resilient, confident, and motivated teams - in a way that brings out the best in them.
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