You want me to WHAT?


How to be a reflective teacher

 “…when making meaning becomes learning…”

Jack Mezirow (1990)

David Schön cultivated the notion of reflective practice in 1983 and described it as “the ability to reflect on one’s actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning.” Reflective practice involves paying critical attention to the practical values and theories which inform everyday actions, by examining practice reflectively. A key rationale for reflective practice is that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning; deliberate reflection on experience is essential (Schön, 1983).

Have you ever sat down for 15 minutes with a cup of coffee and consciously thought about what just happened? As the clinician – you resuscitated a patient… and they died. “But I did go through all the H’s and T’s (sh!t, did I really?) YES of course I did, I had the ACLS card with me. It was probably just their time.” And you go about your normal day. As the educator – your student results are poor… meh, there is a supplementary for this test. “I wonder if I really emphasized enough that chapter 5 was really important? Duh, I’m a good teacher, of course I did. Students were probably lazy, it’s their own fault.” And you go about your normal day.

Sound familiar?  Of course, it does… We are human, we can’t get ourselves caught up in eeeverything we go through every day. But on the flip side… why not?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should spend hours every day reliving every happening of your day, but as clinicians (and especially clinicians that are also educators), we HAVE to be more than just the clinician-teacher. Every day students look up to us and learn from us. Students who see their seniors brush off events, adopt the behavior too. We work with people. As clinicians and as educators, we need to cultivate the correct attitude toward learning and reflection, by modelling these behaviors. Competency as a clinician means competency in the realms of knowledge, skills and attitude.

So, what is reflection and how do you do it? It really is as simple as “sit down for 10 minutes and think”?

Reflection is consciously thinking about an event/interaction.


Summarizing what happened and simply repeating the events in your head is not reflection. Remember, CONSCIOUSLY THINKING!! Think in big words, analyze stuff, describe feelings, evaluate why things happened, try figure out how and why events happened the way they did. What did you learn? What will you do differently? Why will you change that? What do you think this anticipated change will result in?  reflection

Relax, you probably won’t get it right the first time and you are going to feel like you are wasting your time. I can guarantee you that the more you reflect the more your everyday tasks will bring meaning to you. You fill start to find that the time you spend in traffic is WAY valuable thinking time.dewey.png

As clinicians and educators, we underestimate the importance of our role. We have to constantly be aware of how we portray ourselves as the medical professional and also as the teacher. We have students, colleagues, patients and their families relying on us to be the best clinician and teacher at all times. The accountability and responsibility that rests on us every day extends beyond what we realize. We need to mirror the professionals that we want students to be. Health professions graduates need to be autonomous and life-long learners. If you can’t critique yourself, you will never grow. The phrase “do as I say and not as I do” is not the way to create a reflective clinician.

People hardly remember what you say, they remember what they see and feel –  students, colleagues, patients and their families watch us every single day…

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Author: Judy Steyn (@JudySteyn_SA)


Schön, Donald A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods.

Taylor, B. (2010). Reflective practice for healthcare professionals: a practical guide. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).


Child Abuse Resources

References and Resources relevant to the care of the abused child/infant

What is abuse?

“Action, or inaction, which results in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction or lack of interaction, which is reasonably within the control of the parent or person in a position of responsibility, power or trust.” (WHO 1999)

Laws that protect our children?

constitution.gifThe constitution:

Provides direction as to the rights and responsibilities of adults towards children in SA. Section 28 is specifically related to the care and protection of children, and what children can expect in terms of their rights

Children are considered to be vulnerable citizens as such they are specifically protected under the constitution and have the following rights:

The Children’s Act 38 of 2005

This Act covers all the information that would be required for decision making according to the constitution in terms of the child in SA. Section 110 of this act is particularly relevant to health-care providers who are unsure of their role in reporting any kind of abuse of a child.

The important concepts have been summarized below:

Section 110

110 (1) Any correctional official, dentist, homeopath, immigration official, labour inspector, legal practitionerMEDICAL PRACTITIONERmidwife, minister of religion, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psycologist, religious leader, social service professional, social worker, speech therapist, teacher, traditional health practitioner, traditional leader or member of staff or volunteer worker at a partial care facility, drop-in centre or child or youth care centre on reasonable grounds concludes that a child has been abused in a manner causing physical injury, sexually abused or deliberatly neglected MUST report that conclusion to a designated Child Protection organisation, the Provincial Department of Social Development or a Police Official. 

(2) Any person who on reasonable grounds believes that a child is in need of care and protection MAY report that belief to a designated Child Protection organsisation, the provincial Department of Social Development or a Police Official.

(3) The persons referred to in Section (1) and (2) must substantiate their conclusion or belief and if they make the report in good faith, they cannot be sued.

Form 22 on the following link is the correct form that should be completed when a report of abuse is made with any SAPS official/social worker capable of accepting a report:

Information about other laws that may be relevant in the care of a child in SA can be found at the following link:

What about SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a diagnosis of EXCLUSION, meaning it cannot be made without autopsy/investigation into the cause of death.

SIDS does not include death by any of the following causes:

  • Asphyxia
  • Suffocation
  • Aspiration
  • Infection
  • Trauma/injury
  • Metabolic problems (errors in metabolism)
  • Poisoning/medication use resulting in death

None of these conditions can be ruled out without Autopsy, this means ALL infant deaths, specifically if unexpected MUST be referred as an unnatural death for investigation.

The resource on the link below can be used for more information on the topic:

The Patient Record/Report on consultation

  • In the case that you suspect there may be some kind of abuse occuring, the following information MUST be captured and should also appear on any report made to SAPS (form 22).


Attached is an example of a checklist/report form that could accompany any peadiatric injury:


For more information or to get in touch with us, please leave a message for us on the contact page of this blog. We look forward to hearing from you!

Who do I call for help?

Below is a resource with all the contact information for Gauteng:



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