Reflecting on Practice - RoP

Part of Educators


Have you ever thought about how people learn? Or how knowing this can create better outcomes for your programs and activities? Are you interested in establishing a learning community among your staff that enhances teaching practice and fosters the growth and development of people and their ideas? 

Join us for the Coaching Workshop to learn about Reflecting on Practice (RoP™), a modular professional learning program for informal educators. We'll dive into current research in neuroscience that helps give new insights on how learning happens. You’ll explore ways you can support learning within the learning experiences you create, and share strategies for transforming practice at your site.

Apply now for the April 3 - 5, 2019 Reflecting on Practice Coaching Workshop held at the American Museum of Natural History.

Each day runs from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. 

  • Registrant Rate:
    • $100/institution (up to 2 people)
    • $30/person for each additional participant
  • Limited travel stipends available upon request.

Applications for the October workshop are due by February 15th, 2019. Please direct questions to Naina Abowd.

The workshop fees include a take-home curriculum binder, breakfast and lunch.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Reflecting on Practice?
How does the program work?
What do the modular sessions look like?
Benefits of participating in RoP
What if I can't attend the workshops in New York City?

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What is Reflecting on Practice?

Reflecting on Practice (RoP™) is a professional learning program developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science for educators in informal learning environments such as zoos, aquariums, museums, and nature centers and is currently used in over 50 institutions across the U.S. and Canada. This program introduces educators to the latest research on learning, and how this knowledge can contribute to their teaching practice.

Reflecting on Practice is a Learning Partner with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), approved continuing education provider for the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), and a special partner with the Association of Science-Technology Centers. Participants can earn elective or continuing education credit towards their NAI certifications or AZA’s Professional Development Certificate in Education and Interpretation

How does the program work?

Leaders and/or emerging leaders (mid-level manager, coordinators, or directors) from education or volunteer departments at environmental education sites, zoos, aquariums, museums, and nature centers to attend a Coaching Workshop to become RoP Facilitators. In this Coaching Workshop, participants will:

  • become familiar with the philosophy and design of Reflecting on Practice program
  • learn about the models of teaching practice and activities from the program
  • connect with other RoP Facilitators in the region.

As RoP Facilitators, they take the curriculum materials and implement the program with educators at your institution over a period of 6 to 12 months. The program consists of fourteen 2.5 hour sessions organized into modules that focus on topics relevant to learning and teaching science in informal environments (see below for more details). It is designed so that all educators (both veteran and beginning educators) at your institution can learn together and from one another.

Additionally, RoP Facilitators become part of a national community of learners advancing the informal science education field. There are currently over 50 institutions around the U.S. and Canada that have adopted the program, with more institutions and educators joining the community.

What do the modular sessions look like?

Reflecting on Practice is a modular learning program. The modules focus on topics about the nature of learning and science; how people learn; learning conversations; and teaching with objects. Modules consist of interactive small- and whole-group sessions, and reflective tasks.

Four key practice elements are intentionally designed into the program:

  1. Model and build practice (e.g., Hands-on activity). Facilitators lead interactive sessions in which they model evidence-based practice. Participants engage as active learners, as they discuss pedagogy and reflect on their own practice.
  2. Relate research to practice (e.g., Research Discussions). To learn to implement research into their own teaching practice, as modeled by program facilitators, participants read and discuss key ideas from the literature. Research discussions provide participants with opportunity to talk with their colleagues about—and make sense of—ideas from research.
  3. Talk about and experiment with practice (e.g., Let’s Talk Practice, Closing Thoughts). Participants are given time to think about pedagogical strategies they currently use and to generate approaches they would like to try. They are encouraged to experiment with their teaching practice, and to share their experiences with one another.
  4. Observe and reflect on practice (e.g., Learning Journals, Video Reflections). Participants engage in activities designed for reflection both individually, by videotaping their teaching, and as a community, making their practice public by reviewing those tapes with colleagues in a supportive learning community. Facilitators encourage participants to examine their teaching preferences, as well as to consider the approach and philosophy of their team, department, and institution.

Benefits of participating in RoP

Past participants have cited four major outcomes of the program:

  • developed a shared understanding and common language of high quality teaching and learning
  • created changes in habits of thinking
  • opportunities to gain professional skills and recognition
  • cultivation of an internal community/ culture

Here is what they are saying in their own words:

“RoP has encouraged and allowed me to think critically about what I include in my practice and why it is/isn't important. It has provided a platform for reflection and engagement with other educators to help me expand my toolbox.” - AMNH Educator

“The opportunity to watch my colleagues helps me greatly in thinking about how I structure my learning conversations.”  - AMNH Educator 

“Working with the community of educators through RoP has shown me that there is a deep body of knowledge and research for learners to draw from here.” - AMNH Educator

“Learning from the skills and experience of other educators to make a cohesive group, with a common understanding and the same base language for our programs was integral in reinforcing my ideas about our approach to inquiry-based learning.” - AMNH Educator

“I’ve come to understand ‘learning’ as more of a nuanced concept that means different things to different people.” - AMNH Educator

“[When I consider how my educators work together I can see..] there is more thought given to why they are doing what they are doing, how it could be done differently, and why they would be considering these things because it comes up in conversations… people are tending to look at things with more of a critical eye than they might have before… Some of these things from RoP are there in the back of their head… They kind of have some new filters to look at things through." - California Academy of Sciences Manager

“Reflecting on Practice has opened my eyes to a world of research and information I was unaware of. It has been extremely beneficial to read and discuss with my co-workers/critical friends to help better understand the process of learning and effective teaching.” - Gallery Educator at Virginia Aquarium

“Until I began using video as a reflective tool, there were things I thought I was doing BUT in fact I was not. For example, I thought I was have engaging conversations with our guests at exhibits and during my presentations but I was doing more lecturing than facilitating conversations” - Volunteer Docent at Virginia Aquarium

"I use the lessons learned in Reflecting on Practice all the time - with new employees, as a refresher for myself, or as a reminder. It has shaped the way I think about how I learn and how our guests learn." - Birch Aquarium Educator

"Since I am still a relatively new educator, there are still many moments of me being self-conscious etc. However, as long as I remind myself to focus on the learners, teaching becomes joyful. Many of the strategies I learned are very helpful along the way." - Cal Academy Educator

What if I can't attend the workshops in New York City?

Regional Leaders around the country offer Reflecting on Practice Coaching Workshops.