Why being reflective is so important in the profession of teaching?

Boud (1985) defines reflection as “an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, mull over it and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important for learning.” Further, Johns (2009) states that in becoming reflective practitioners, one enters a critical and reflexive process of self-enquiry. Teachers are constantly ‘learning by doing’ because they are monitoring, observing and analysing children’s feelings and progress from a lesson. Hence, teachers are constantly entering the cycle of reflection in order to improve children’s learning and improve their teaching to attend to any misconceptions. Being a reflective teacher, therefore, ‘involves a willingness to engage in constant self-appraisal and development’ (Pollard, 2008).  

In England, our training is aimed at becoming secure in the teaching standards set out by our Government. Standard 4d of the Teachers’ Standards states the need for teachers to ‘reflect systematically’ on teaching approaches; with standard 8 highlighting that teachers should take responsibility for improving their practice through their professional development (DfE, 2011). As a result, in a profession that requires precise judgements, ultimately affecting pupil progress (Pollard, 2008), the significance of knowing one’s role, approaches, and areas of improvement will only strengthen the need for good reflective practice. Reflection is important in the environment of teaching then because it allows them to critique their beliefs about teaching and learning so they can take more responsibility in the classroom.

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Having studied what education means in a variety of contexts, my own views of reflection and what it means to be a teacher have changed several times. The expectations of a teacher, in my mind, are central in transforming education to make a positive difference for the lives of the pupils. “Teaching at its core is a moral profession. Moral purpose keeps teachers close to the needs of the children or the youth’ (Fullan, 1993). I fully acknowledge how my actions will have significant implications on pupils’ learning. Therefore, my passion for teaching is rooted in the need to always be better.


Boud, D., Keogh, R., & Walker, D. (1985). Promoting Reflection in Learning: A Model. Reflection: Turning Reflection into Learning. London: Routledge.

Johns C. Model of structred reflection. 2000. In: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner (3rd edn). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell; 2009 Google Scholar

Pollard, V. (2008). Ethics and reflective practice: continuing the conversation. Reflective Practice, 9:4, 399-407, DOI: 10.1080/14623940802431788

Department for Education. (2011). Teaching Standards. (Accessed Nov 2020).

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