Tools to help students with reflective practice and using theory

Simple tools like asking about the weather and playing games can help practice educators support students' learning

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This article comprises of tools and videos taken from two guides on Community Care Inform by social worker and practice educator Siobhan Maclean. The full guides cover how to use different models of reflection with students to improve their reflective skills, and different activities, games and tools you can use with students to support their understanding and use of theory. Subscribers can read the guides on the practice education knowledge and practice hub on Inform Children and Inform Adults.

Reflection: the weather model

This simple yet powerful model of reflection was initially developed by students in a group supervision. They decided to use the weather as a metaphor because they felt that a key aspect of ‘English’ culture is to discuss the weather almost every day. They thought the weather could be used to encourage practitioners to reflect on their practice as often as possible.

Any type of weather can be used, and in itself this can facilitate a creative approach to reflection. So rather than asking a reflective question if the practice educator just says “snow” and then the student can say how they see this and what reflections it creates.

Read the full guide to reflection on Inform Children and Inform Adults.

Playing games with theory

Playing games can be particularly helpful at addressing student anxiety about using theory in practice. Playing games in supervision is unusual, so it often stands out for students as a learning activity and students generally report remembering these for much longer than any discussions in supervision.

One useful game is Snap! There are a number of similarities between different theories and models. For example, defined, clearly focused short-term intervention is part of both crisis intervention and task centred practice. Recognising the service user as the expert on their situation is a part of a range of models and approaches, such as the exchange model of assessment and the solution focused approach. Using the traditional card game of Snap! can be helpful in promoting an understanding of the links or connections between theories and models.

Read the full guide to theory and practice on Inform Children and Inform Adults.

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