What is Reflective Teaching Practice and Why do It?


Extract from Issue#31 of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

All issues of Teaching Tuesdays can be accessed through the folder at this link

What is reflective practice and why do it?


QUOTE: Reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and thinking about if it works. Analysing and evaluating this information may lead to changes and improvements in our teaching. Reflective teaching is a cyclical process, because once you start to implement changes, then the reflective and evaluative cycle begins again (Tice).

“When teaching reflectively, instructors think critically about their teaching and problem-solve for solutions to recurring issues, rather than relying on unchanging, established personal norms” (Yale).

Reflection is a systematic reviewing process for all teachers which allows you to make links from one experience to the next, making sure your students make maximum progress.The reflective process encourages you to work with others as you can share best practice and draw on others for support. Reflection makes sure all students learn more effectively as learning can be tailored to them. A reflective practitioner looks for ways to improve practice by asking for feedback from students and colleagues, evaluating practice compared to new research and new theories, and incorporating innovation to improve practice” (Cambridge Community).

“It includes developing competence to identify and replicate best practice, refine serendipitous practice, and avoid inferior practice. It results in teachers knowing not onlywhat to do, but also why. Research substantiates the role of reflection in teachers’ professional growth” (Danielson).



More than thinking about teaching and talking to colleagues about it: reflective teaching implies a more systematic process of collecting, recording and analysing our own and others’ thoughts and observations and then going on to making changes (Tice).

QUOTE: Assumptions guide practice and only when we base our actions on accurate assumptions will we achieve the results we want. Educators with the courage to challenge their own assumptions in an effort to improve learning are the invaluable role models our students need (Brookfield).

QUOTE: If we do not take the time to write down or record ideas in some way as these occur to us, we are in danger of losing them (Zalipour).

Getting Started with Reflective Practice is a website that provides a clear and detailed overview of the reflective practice process including benefits and common misconceptions (Cambridge Community).

Benefits of Reflective practice:

  • helps create confident teachers (and students)
  • makes sure you are responsible for yourself and your students
  • encourages innovation
  • encourages engagement
  • benefits all – teachers, colleagues, students

All of these things together result in a productive working environment.

Common misconceptions

  • ‘It doesn’t directly impact my teaching if I think about things after I have done them’- the reflections you make will directly affect the next lesson or block of teaching as you plan to rework and reteach ideas.
  • ‘Reflection takes too long; I do not have the time’ – see strategies below to avoid this.
  • ‘Reflection is only focused on me, it does not directly affect my students’ – reflecting and responding to your reflections will directly affect your students as you change and adapt your teaching.
  • ‘Reflection is a negative process’ – it is a cyclical process, meaning you grow and adapt.
  • ‘Reflection is a solo process, so how will I know I’ve improved?’– reflection should trigger discussion and co-operation.

Analysis of the references below reveals five broad perspectives on ongoing reflective practice for teaching:

  • Teacher professional development
  • Teacher personal development
  • Enhanced student outcomes
  • Contribution to broader teaching and society contexts
  • Career development

The next section of the bulletin examines HOW TO DO REFLECTIVE PRACTICE.


Brookfield, S. D. (2017). Becoming a critically reflective teacher (2nd Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Available as e-book from CSU library.

Cambridge Community (n.d.).Getting Started with reflective practice (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cambridge-community.org.uk/professional-development/gswrp/index.html

Danielson, L. M. (2009). Fostering Reflection. Educational Leadership, 66(5). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/Fostering-Reflection.aspx

Peer Support Australia (2018). Taking stock: The importance of reflection for renewal. Retrieved from https://peersupport.edu.au/taking-stock-the-importance-of-reflection-for-renewal/

Pollard, A., Black-Hawkins, K., & Cliff, H. G. (2014). Reflective teaching in schools. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au AND http://reflectiveteaching.co.uk

Tice, J. (2011). Reflective teaching: Exploring our own classroom practice. Retrieved from https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/reflective-teaching-exploring-our-own-classroom-practice

Yale (2018). Reflective teaching. Retrieved from https://ctl.yale.edu/ReflectiveTeaching

Zalipour, A. (2015). Reflective practice. Retrieved from https://www.waikato.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/360861/Reflective-Practice-June-2015.pdf