Reflection has been described as a process of turning experience into learning. That is, of exploring experience in order to learn new things from it. Reflection involves taking the unprocessed, raw material of experience and engaging with it to make sense of what has occurred (Boud, D. 2001).

Reflective practice supports you in making sense of a situation and can enable you to grow and develop your own working theories, philosophy and pedagogy. Your reflections, both individual and team, provide valuable data and evidence of your developing pedagogy and professional growth.

Teacher looking at paper

As a teacher, manager, mentor and ECE facilitator I believe we are often reflecting throughout our working day. These daily reflections include anticipation of, during and after events. Reflections, or more importantly recording regular reflections is often an action that is overlooked due to the many demands placed on busy teachers.

Getting to the crux of true reflective practice – it’s more than just looking back! It’s about making the time to think about values, assumptions and beliefs. It’s all very well to reflect by saying: “Well, we tried ….. and it didn’t work!”. What I have observed to be good practice is making time to work through these questions:

    • What role have you played in this?
    • What you did and why?
    • How does this reflect the principles, and goals of our curriculum and our philosophy?
    • What would you do differently to support a better outcome?
    • What does this say about your teaching strategies and our role

Some teachers may need support to strengthen their skills in reflecting deeply, so they can truly unpack the inconsistencies between espoused beliefs and practices (what we think we do) versus actions in practice (what we really do). Reflection can support a greater understanding of who we are as teachers and how our own values and beliefs impact on what and why we do things.

Using a reflective plan with goals within the Storypark planning area is an ideal way to assist you in clarifying your ideas, musings and evidence and can support deeper reflection. Sharing these reflections with fellow colleagues and/or someone who is removed from your situation (providing an external mechanism) can be useful as there is little benefit from being too insular and relying on just your own interpretations. The role of a “provocateur” can be a valuable one. A plan can be completely private or you can invite a mentor/manager/colleague from within your centre.

The evidence we gather in a plan or teacher story can provide a rich source for reflection. Yes we have the stories we craft and create but we also have the data found within the reports area of your centres Storypark account, and within your own portfolio area. The learning tags you use provide learning trends which can highlight the learning you have focused on and recorded over any period of time. If you have used the learning tags to highlight the MAIN learning, then you will be able to create a picture of your own pedagogical focus.  Also highlighting your lens on learning – what does it illuminate for you?

Some examples of reflection models to support the creation of your own reflective plan:


Brookfields (1995)


Clements, E. (1999)


Greenaway (1995)

Our autobiographies as learners and teachers: Consider your own experience as a learner, with reference to your own education and learning. The analysis of your own learning experiences will help to uncover your assumptions and beliefs about how people learn.

Our students eyes: Consider the view of the child. You may like to consider looking at children’s reactions to an activity you provided, you can also collect video, and photographic evidence to support this section.

Our colleagues experiences: An opportunity to get an insight into a particular experience by engaging in dialogue with colleagues through face-to-face conversations, email, skype, online etc.

Theoretical literature: Access literature or call on theory supporting your incident, activity, thinking and wonderings.


As the title of this model would suggest, reflection using the spiral model is never ending. Below are the stages that the spiral model offers.

Act: Your teaching practice involves action.

Select: You select an action that has impacted on you during the day.

Name: You describe the action.

Reflect: You reflect using the description of the action, as well as considering values, beliefs, assumptions, other influences on the event, theory and the context of the event.

Research: You refer to theory to support your reflections.

Plan: You develop a plan as a result of the reflection.

Act: You implement the plan.

Monitor: You return to the beginning of the spiral and the process continues.


Plan: What have I learned? 

What do I currently do?

What other knowledge will help me deepen my understanding?

What question should I ask to get the information I need?

Do: Why have I taken this approach?

Who or what influences me?

How have my understanding and actions changed or remained the same as a result?

Review: What conclusions have I reached?

What ideas have influenced me and how?

What other ways are there to understand and interpret these theories, ideas, and concepts?

How have my understanding and actions changed or remained the same as a result of my learning?



Smyth, J (1987)



Melenyzer, Nettles, & Wyman (2000)



Campbell, Peters (1991)


Describe: What did I do? The purpose of this question is to describe action without judgments.

Inform: What does this mean? The purpose of this question is to inform yourself about the theories that influence your actions, and includes a search for patterns of principles underpinning practice.

Confront: How did I come to be this way?

The purpose of this question is to confront the key assumptions underlying practice, and includes an examination of the broad historical, social and cultural context

Reconstruct: How might I do things differently? The purpose of this question is to reconstruct or modify practice, and includes consideration of alternative views and generation of goals for future action.


What? What happened? Describe the scenario, the moment, the wondering, the thought?

So what? What does this mean for me?

What has happened to influence my thoughts at this point? i.e. context, culture, conversation, readings etc

Now what? What might I do differently?

How might I change, enhance or develop this scenario? What further actions might I take?


Describe: Describe the aspect or incident that represents some critical aspect of your work e.g. context, your practice, how you feel etc.

Analysis: Consider why this aspect/ incident operates as it does. Consider your own values and assumptions that support it.

Theorise: Look at alternative ways of approaching your practice by taking the theory you uncovered at the analysis stage, and deriving new theory from it or attaching it to a new or different theory

Act: In the final stage you put the new theory into practice or try out new ways of doing things. Your goal is to make your new practice consistent with the theory you have arrived at through reflection.

Want to know more about using:

Learning Tags:

Learning Trends Reports:

My Portfolio Report:



OʼConnor, A. & Diggins, C. (2002). On reflection: reflective practice for early childhood educators. Lower Hutt: Open Mind Publishing.

Campbell, Melenyzer, Nettles, & Wyman (2000). Portfolio and Performance Assessment in Teacher Education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Peters, J. (1991). Strategies for reflective practice. Professional development for Educators of Adults. New directions for Adult and Continuing Education. R. Brockett (ed). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Boud, D. (2001). Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice. In English, L. M. and Gillen, M. A. (Eds.) Promoting Journal Writing in Adult Education. New Directions in Adult and Continuing Education No. 90. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 9-18.

Sharon Carlson, Professional Learning and Development Manager at Storypark

Posted by Sharon Carlson

Sharon's early years were supported at home by her Mum in Taranaki. She later became an ECE ICT facilitator for CORE Education, and then Storypark. Sharon has successfully supported the implementation of a diverse range of ICT products and services around the country and is helping make sure Storypark is awesome for teachers and children's development.

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