The Role of Reflection in Education

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Teachers play an important role in the life of a student, especially at the formative years where the child is supposed to be taken through the process of socialization. The school is one of the major agents of socialization in the modern society. The child learns new things when he or she starts attending school. School going marks the beginning of formal training for the child. In this regard, the teacher is required to be equipped with adequate skills that would help him or her to understand the behavior of the child (Bernard, & Goodyear, 1992). Reflection or reflective practice is a special skill that any teacher needs to acquire to be able to navigate learners through education successfully. Teaching professionals, just like the rest of professionals in other fields, have a special duty of ensuring that they enhance their skills and knowledge, as well as of those they are supposed to take care of. The process of continuous reflection is important in enhancing teacher skills. The teacher is able to maintain the professional status of critical caretaker through reflection. The process of reflection entails assessing one’s current situation and trying to weigh the weaknesses against the strengths. A teacher is a primary caregiver because he or she works with the most vulnerable persons in society: children. When an injustice or violence is meted out against a child, the teacher is supposed to apply special skills either to diagnose the problem or provide help (Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2007).

Reflective practice enables a professional to observe the behavior of his or her client, note down feelings, thoughts, attitudes, skills, and biases from an objective point of view. Without reflection, a teacher would not be in a position to offer any help to students since paves way for exposure whereby the teacher would be able to observe an event or behavior from a number of perspectives before settling for the best. If a teacher desires to have a deeper understanding of a situation, he or she would be required to be reflective. Again, completing a certain course of action would need reflection (Redmond, 2004). The challenges facing humanity, irrespective of the field, are many. Reflection could be employed successfully in addressing some of the challenges in the school setting. The current situation where children and learners are exposed to technology brings about ethical issues and dilemmas (Pockett, Napier, & Giles, 2013). For instance, the issue of applying technology in class is a hot one given the fact that some analysts are strongly opposed to it. Additionally, children are exposed to the various sources of media, including social media, which has further exposed them to many risks. The issue of sexuality is a great challenge to caregivers and counselors, including teachers. Addressing all these ethical dilemmas would need reflection from the side of the teacher, as Thompson and Thompson (2008) advice.     

Apart from being a teaching professional, teachers have their own challenges as well. Reflective practice reminds them of their duty. In essence, a teacher is supposed to bring only professionalism at the place of work implying the focus is on the students and learners. In this regard, application of special skills and theoretical knowledge is highly recommended. The teacher is supposed to be aware of the effects of personal beliefs and traditions on his or her work. Reflection allows the teacher to grow personally and professionally because it allows him or her to handle different situations. With time, reflection allows professionals to maintain very high standards of service. In other words, they are able to perform at the highest standards through reflection and self-assessment (Pockett, Napier, & Giles, 2013). Recently, it has been established that reflection plays a major role in maintaining the right level of empathy, concern, and understanding as far as handling of clients is concerned. The professional has to be aware of the ways in which life and work are likely to affect service delivery.

Self-reflection allows teachers to address the many challenges they could be facing internally. If an individual is unable to solve his or her own problem without the help of others, handling the issues of their clients is extremely difficult. The ability serve the targeted group needs a high sense of self. Working with young learners, for instance, is a challenge because of their vulnerability. Handling their concerns at times is both theoretical and emotional. While the teacher would have to maintain the professional conduct, he or she could be overpowered by emotions to an extent of mishandling the problem (O’Hara, & Pockett, 2013). Therefore, reflective practice is suggested as one way of establishing the right balance between professionalism and emotions. Taking an example of a child who is facing difficulties in life, the teacher may tend to promise a form of help that he or she might not afford. Reflection allows the teacher to apply the most appropriate skill in handling such a scenario without hurting the emotions of the child.

Reflection is known to increase self-awareness, making it the most powerful tool. First, it allows an individual to identify his or her strengths by affirming what he or she can do better. Second, it enables a practitioner to be aware of the practices that need improvement. If a certain policy or method is being applied daily and the result is not changing, reflective practice would play an important role in initiating changes. Third, reflection permits the practitioner to identify areas that need more attention. In a school setup, for instance, children are gifted different meaning the teacher would have to vary the instructional material for all children to benefit (Zimmerman, 2002).

The practice of reflection could therefore be applied in recognizing and continuing the good practices while eliminating the ones that are not beneficial to any of the clients. It also helps in changing and improving whatever is not working according to the plan. The skill is applicable in challenging some of the practices that have always been taken for granted. Furthermore, it assists the teacher acting as a counselor to monitor various aspects of teaching practice on the daily basis. Finally, it facilitates knowledge on the required support systems (Cartwright, 2011).

It is concluded that self-reflection or simply reflective practice ought to be considered as a critical element in the profession’s life. It has to be undertaken from time to time instead of perceiving it as a one off event. The professional employing reflection is likely to benefit from the neutrality and insight that reflection offers. The way an individual views him or herself could be radically different from the way others view him or her. Therefore, reflection is recommended because it allows an individual to view him or herself from a different perspective. Since it enhances self-awareness, an individual reduces the number of errors that he or she is likely to commit during the process of service delivery.


Bernard, J.M., & Goodyear, R.K. (1992). Fundamentals of Clinical Supervision. (2nd Ed). Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.

Cartwright, L. (2011). Developing reflective practice: A guide for beginning teachers. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Corey, G., Corey, M.S., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions. (7th Ed.). Belmont: Thompson Brooks/Cole.

 O’Hara, R. & Pockett, R. (2013). Skills for Human Service Practice. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford.

Pockett, R., Napier L., & Giles, R. (2013). Critical Reflection for Practice. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford.

Redmond, B. (2004). Reflection in action: Developing reflective practice in Health and Social Services. Aldershot u.a: Ashgate.

Thompson, S., & Thompson, N. (2008). The critically reflective practitioner. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview. Theory into Practice, 41(2), 64-70

August 14, 2023




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