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We All TALK About Reflection - but How Do You TEACH It?
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We All TALK About Reflection - but How Do You TEAC...

"Reflection, in the words of a layman, “... simply means thinking about something,” but for some, “it is a well-defined and crafted practice that carries very specific meaning and associated action.” (Loughran, 2002)*


New “teachers-to-be” will lack actual hands-on experience. So, we must start with teaching students to think in a reflective way—even though they may first be reflecting on plans as opposed to reflecting on actual experience.



Where do we begin in teaching preservice teachers reflection?


We start by having them reflect on their work in a consistent and constant manner. Eventually, reflection will become part of their teaching process as they actually experience working with children.


A 7-part approach to teaching reflection


Using scenario-type assignments—like those provided in MindTap Education—students should be encouraged to consistently follow a structured approach:


  • Plan: What would you do “if” _____?
  • Apply: Back up the plan with theory. What do we know through research of why we do things this way?
  • Execute: Carry out the plan; or project what might occur
  • Assess: What worked? What didn’t? What could you change?
  • Ask: How would this impact a child’s learning or development?
  • Reflect: How could this experience make you a better teacher?
  • Scaffold: How could you continue to build on your knowledge with this plan?


Think. Plan. Be flexible.


Getting preservice teachers to ALWAYS think in this manner on EVERYTHING they do when teaching is crucial in my opinion.


First, preservice teachers need to have the knowledge to back up their actions. This will help them build confidence and hone their ability to make sound decisions.


Secondly, they need to learn there isn’t a right or wrong approach. Always back up your plan with theory, then think flexibly and make adjustments as needed to ensure the plan effectively supports a child’s learning.



Share YOUR best practices


Like others in the Cengage Faculty Community, I’d love to hear how you teach reflection to your preservice teachers. Please join the conversation and share your methods in the comments.



*Loughran, J. John. “Effective Reflective Practice: In Search of Meaning in Learning about Teaching,...


Sandy Owen, Professor and Program Chair
Early Childhood Education Department,

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College