Monday, December 5, 2011

Reflective Questions for Student Affairs Pros

[This post is for my friends and colleagues who work in Student Affairs. (What is Student Affairs? Check out NASPA or ACPA to learn!)]

Professional development should be an expectation and commitment for all who work in our field, and it should be a self-imposed expectation and commitment. Development is an ongoing process; it never ends. We are in the business of student development. We work tirelessly to keep students moving ever forward in their growth as individuals and intellectuals. Should we not then push ourselves in such a manner? Absolutely we should.

I must be clear that when I say professional development, I mean more than participating in the occasional webinar, attending the annual conference, or sending the intermittent listserv email to solicit best practices. Professional development is the continual pursuit of the best versions of our professional selves. It is the continual refining of our philosophies, expanding of our paradigms, and deepening of our understanding of student learning and development. It is the ceaseless quest for excellence.

Here are 13 questions we need to be asking ourselves and reflecting upon regularly. Some of them may be uncomfortable to answer at times, but they are all posed in the spirit of growth.

1. What research have I recently read that relates to my area of practice?
2. What articles and trade publications do I read in my area of practice and in the broader fields of student affairs, higher education, and learning and development theory?
3. Do I expect the same from myself that I expect from my students?
4. Am I holding myself to the same standards to which I hold them?
5. Am I giving my students the information they need to make informed decisions?
6. Am I trying to influence students to adopt my value system, or helping them to develop their own?
7. Do I collect and analyze information that helps me improve my practice and improve my approaches to impacting student learning and development?
8. Am I more concerned about my own career advancement or my students' advancement?
9. Do I make decisions based on my wants or students' needs?
10. What is my guiding philosophy? How does it guide my work?
11. What am I reading outside of my field that I can connect to my practice?
12. Do I go to work every day with the intention to make a difference?
13. What am I learning today?

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