Leadership in reflective practice - Strategies to encourage others to build a reflective community

Author: Gary Taylor

Leadership in reflective practice -strategies to encourage others to build a reflective community

Gary Taylor
28 February 2017

Taylor, G.H. (2017). Leadership in reflective practice -strategies to encourage others to build a reflective community. (A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic.) [PDF 6.3MB]


This material presents my work within the context of being a leader and one who is also a reflective practitioner. I have been the Christchurch campus manager of ATC New Zealand since 2004, and as a result I believe that I not only have a sound grasp of the factors that influence and impact my branch, but also the organisation as a whole. ATC New Zealand also has branches in Auckland, Pukekohe and Hamilton, where the head office is located. I have allowed Course One and Two, and my personal reflections, to shape what I have set out to achieve through this project. It has also been an ongoing aspiration of mine to lead, grow and develop professionally along the themes identified in my project title.

I started my Master of Professional Practice with the belief that I can make a tangible difference to the flourishing of my organisation (Shaw & Smith, 2011). ATC New Zealand is a not-for-profit, private training establishment, that started in 1984 and has come a long way since the early days of equipping farm workers with essential life skills. Today ATC New Zealand offers a wide range of multi-disciplinary programmes ranging from Level 1 to 7 on the NZQA framework. The founding members of ATC New Zealand came from a volunteer and church background, where many staff were recruited without formal teaching credentials or qualifications. This practice has continued through to the time this project commenced, and as a result many of the staff are neither formally trained as teachers or understand the value of intentional reflective practice, as a necessary part of being an educator and teacher.

It is my intention that the work from this project will help ATC New Zealand teaching staff understand the value of reflection, and challenge them to become intentional with regards to embedding reflection into their practice. It is also my hope to encourage leadership staff, primarily the heads of schools, to build lively reflective communities of learning. These communities must be anchored by strong and engaging relationships, informed by reflective thinking and practice. They also need to have a rhythm that supports the development of a vibrant community of practice (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002). During the course of my Master of Professional Practice studies I have been inspired by many authors, one of whom is John, F, Kennedy who is quoted as saying: “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. ” (Commencement Address at Yale University, 1962).

I am finding much inspiration from my own thinking, and want to allow my thoughts and reflections to shape who I am as a leader and practitioner. Although I take note of the opinion of others, I most certainly enjoy the process of exploring my own thinking, and the accompanying uneasiness of thought. I believe that in reflecting on that uneasiness, and adapting my thinking and practice, I am becoming a more efficient and effective leader.

Key words: Leadership; Reflective practice; Reflective community.

This research was supervised by Glenys Forsyth and Heather Carpenter.


This thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.

Creative Commons License