Reflections on Half Time

If you are like many people you have probably caught at least a little bit of the football World Cup in Russia over the last few weeks. Since for a good portion of this year’s event I was in the company of a colleague from Belgium, I watched a bit more than I might usually do. I was struck by the importance of half time. Yes, it was an important break so that tired bodies could get some rest and treatment but it was also a significant time strategically. This half-time break meant that the other team had been more fully assessed, strengths and weaknesses were able to be reviewed, tactics modified and even substitutions made. Many games were won because of the half time changes that were introduced. Half-time was an important reflective practice opportunity.

If you weren’t watching the football you were probably keeping an eye on what was happening on the other side of the world deep within a complicated cave system in northern Thailand. What an amazing rescue! In addition to experiencing the relief and elation when the rescue succeeded, I was struck by comments by leaders in the rescue team about how much they were able to refine and improve the rescue process as they went along. The second and third rescue operations were faster and more efficient as a result of what had been learned in earlier attempts. In this case ‘one third time’ and ‘second third time’ were important reflective practice opportunities that enabled the 3rd rescue to be even better than the earlier attempts despite the changing weather circumstances that created more challenges.

So here we are at the end of ‘half time’ in the school year and I wonder what different tactics might be worth putting in place in the second half of the year?

Reflecting upon the following questions might provide some insights into new tactics and practices in your teaching or leading that will help to make your second half of the year even better than the first…

  • What are you most pleased about from the first half of the year? And, what else? And, what else?
  • What has not turned out the way you had hoped from the first half of the year?
  • When you reflect on these things what general principles might have underpinned these successes and disappointments?
  • What must you get right to ensure that 2018 finishes well?
  • What would be the highest leverage focus area for you to give attention to in the second half of 2018?
  • What would success in this area look like? Who else would notice and what would they be saying?

Of course reflections like these need to lead to actions. Football teams went out and played the second half putting into action their revised tactics. Dive rescue teams went back for second and third rescue operations streamlining procedures to be more effective. So reflecting without action does not change anything. This comment from a book I have been reading lately sums up the value of action well…

"The reason why researchers keep finding an impulse towards action in leaders and successful team members is very simple. We are talking about two basic impulses: do something or do nothing. ‘Do nothing’ hardly ever changes anything. But ‘do something’ changes the odds of success every time a new action is initiated. You try something then you step back and see how it’s working. If it continues not to work and you abandon it, you learn what you can from the experience and try something new…
So the fundamental law of success is this: Action is more likely to succeed than inaction. That is why action-oriented people are so critical to the success of the team. These individuals change the odds in favour of success significantly and dramatically."

~(La Fasto and Larson, 2002, p22)

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? It is however a helpful reminder that while reflection and review is critically important it is acting on the learning from that reflection that changes the game.

So how can you turn the insights gained into actions that can help to ensure a win in the second half of 2018? What might be the first small action you could take to ensure that you can ‘win’ the year and finish well?


  • 1 La Fasto, F. & Larson, C. (2001) When teams work best. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

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