Reflective Practice

Teaching is a continual process of planning, reflecting and adapting where you learn from your own teaching experience and refine and develop your professional practice. ‘Reflective Practice’ itself derives from the work of Dewey and Schön.

Dewey (1938) argued that reflective practice promotes a consideration for why things are as they are and how we might direct our actions and behaviour through careful planning, underpinned by experience and theory in order to be as impactful as possible.

Schön (1983) took this further and defined to processes: reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. The difference between observing thoughts and actions as they occur to make adjustments in the moment and the process of retrospectively looking back and learning from experiences to adapt future action.

When do we reflect?

Reflection is a deliberate and conscientious process that employs a person’s cognitive, emotional and somatic capacities to mindfully contemplate on past, present or future (intended or planned) actions in order to learn, better understand and potentially improve future actions (Harvey, et al., 2016)

Brookfield (1995) defined four distinct and interconnecting lenses through which teachers discover, examine and critically reflect on their own assumptions and actions. You should not limit yourself to a specific lens or lenses. Consider each perspective as a unique but interconnected part of your teaching practice.

Lens/perspective Source
Self Our own autobiography as teachers and learners. This is a reflection on your practice or during your practice. You may document it using a journal, or other as a collection of artefacts. It may be an informal process.
Students Consider the student perspective and engage in dialogue. Reflections can be in the form of formal feedback or as part of our informal conversations. These discussions serve as drivers for reflection and development.
Peers The perspective of our colleagues is useful to consider new approaches. These can be broad, informal discussions or they might be part of a formal Peer Observation.
Scholarship Explore the research within the field of teaching and learning. What does the evidence suggest is good practice? Consider how this may work within your own individual context.

Reflective practice enables us to develop our practice and become more impactful teachers. The greatest value of reflection comes when we repeat the reflective process, creating a habit and strengthening our ability to be critically reflective and improve (Jasper, 2013).

Related Documents

This guide provides a structure to identify strengths and areas for improvement based on your experiences in the classroom.

If you would like support or assistance with Reflective Practice or any other aspects of your teaching and learning practice, please contact Learning Innovation.


Borton, T., 1970. Reach Touch and Teach: Student Concerns and Process Education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Brookfield, S., 1995. Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Wiley and Sons.

Dewey, J., 1938. Experience in Education. New York, NY: MacMillan.

Driscoll, J., 1994. Reflective Practice for Practise. Senior Nurse, Volume 13, pp. 47-50.

Jasper, M., 2013. Beginning Reflective Practice. 2nd ed. Andover, UK: Cengage Learning.

Pollard, A. et al., 2002. Reflective Teaching: Effective and Evidence-Informed Professional Practice. London, UK: Continuum.

Reynolds, C., Labissiere, Y. & Haack, P., 2004. Developing reflective practice in teaching assistants through electronic portfolios. The Journal of Faculty Development, Volume 1, pp. 37-44.

Schön, D., 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action. New York, NY: Basic Books.