Unit One: What is Self Reflection

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Purplearrowbullet.gifLearning Objectives

The learner will be able to define self reflection and understand what it looks like when used in the classroom as a tool to promote student driven learning.


Self reflection is something that everyone has done at some point in there life. While it comes easily to some, it is inherently more difficult for others, which is why taking the time to teach reflection in school is so important. Before we get started, watch the following video on Gibbs' Reflective Cycle:

The video focused on how the cycle of reflection and walks the viewer through an example of a reflection. The Reflective Cycle highlighted in the video can also be seen below:

Graham Gibbs came up with this cycle framework to give structure to learning from experience. Please read the following article which details each step of the reflective process, as you read, take note of the questions which correlate with each step. These questions can come in handy later on when designing your reflective activity.


Now that you have a background on how this can be applied to anyone, how does it directly correlate with education?

In his work titled How We Think, John Dewey states that "self reflection is the only type of thinking that leads to learning." As teachers, we spend so much time on the actual teaching and passing of information that we often forget to take the time to allow our students to step back and reflect on what they have learned thus far. This type of introspective activity is crucial for deep and meaningful learning experiences.

Please read the following from a blog post on the importance of self reflection:

"It was my semester of student teaching, October of 2010, basement library computer lab at The College of New Jersey, Friday evening after rugby practice. There, I found myself pounding away at the keyboard, reflecting on the just finished week of student teaching. This happened over and over again through the semester, me writing incessantly about the small wins and big mistakes of the five days of teaching, and feeling like the words were flowing from my fingertips through divine inspiration. I’d re-read the reflections, and they were largely incoherent, but the process of writing them was priceless for figuring out what it meant to do this job. I remember my supervisor and still-today mentor Mr. Sowder responding to one of my emailed reflections with “You like writing these, it seems." It was then that I realized the value of self-reflection as a student: reflection allowed me to teach myself. Reflection is a way to learn from experience, without anyone else needed to guide me or talk to me. While many mention the growth mindset as something abstract, teaching students to self-reflect is a tangible strategy for building a student growth mindset. Fortunately, there are educators with far larger pedigrees than mine who have espoused the benefits of teaching students to self-reflect."

In this quote, the author states that self reflection allowed for him to teach himself. The world of education is constantly changing and evolving but one thing that has stayed the same is the importance of students being able to learn for themselves and be in a constant growth mindset. In this example, the student teacher used journal writing as a means to reflect on their experience, but there are many ways to go about it. We will get into some of the more specific types of reflection activities in unit 3.

Greenarrowbullet.gifLearning Activities

Now that you have watched both videos consider the following questions:

  • Can you think of a time when you engaged in a personal reflection in your teaching career?
  • Can you think of any ways that you can incorporate the reflective process in your curriculum?

Respond to this question while thinking of the students in your classroom and how this might be applied across curriculums.


After watching the videos and reading the mini- lecture, I hope this gave you a more clear idea of what self reflection is and what it should look like in a classroom setting. In the following units we will be learning about the benefits of teaching self reflection to students and how it is an important tool in creating lifelong learners.