What does the word “reflection” mean to you?

Note 1: I don’t mean to attack anyone or their ideas, beliefs, definitions or anything.

Note 2: I think it’s great to start out a blog post with the above note.

Note 3: It seems I will be taking a break from the heavily observation/feedback focused turn the blog has taken lately and focus on reflection, which is another of my main interests.

When reading the most recent issue of KOTESOL’s “The English Connection”  magazine I noticed the following ad for an upcoming symposium in Busan:

Much has been made about the need for teacher
improvement. We as teachers know that we
need to continue to develop our skills, teaching
techniques, and our delivery to help our students
understand the material that we present. How
can we measure our development? How can we
know if a lesson has actually been successful or

The BG-Kotesol Reective Teaching
Symposium, to be held at Busan
University of Foreign Studies on
April 21st at 2pm, will provide some
answers to these (and other) questions.
For more information visit the BG-Kotesol
Facebook page or contact us at

Actually, I didn’t just notice it.  A few things jumped out at me!
I felt like maybe the person that wrote the ad and I might be working with different definitions of reflection and might have different assumptions about teaching and learning.* I am a big believer in reflection but I am not completely sure that it will necessarily help us answer the questions:

How can we measure our development?
How can we
 know if a lesson has actually been successful or not?

I think that we can find much, much more from reflection. I wonder what you, dear reader, see as the main questions that can be answered by reflection.  What do you think are the main benefits of reflection? What questions do you think are answered through reflective practice? 

I will actually be presenting at the symposium  (but surely not answering the above questions!). Watch this space for more information.  Please do be sure to read friend of the blog Josette LeBlanc’s post on her upcoming presentation at the symposium. 

*I must admit that I am a bit leery of the word “present.” To my mind it assumes a certain role for the teacher and perhaps one that might not always be best for students. Maybe this is a post better left for another day!


  1. Tony Gurr


    Now, there’s a question – a great, big, bloody question!

    I was kinda hoping that you and Josette would “give” us the answer – but then noted that you do not like the word “present” 😉

    REFLECTion – the “cornerstone” of professional improvement that makes a real difference to both the lives of teachers, and (one would hope) the LEARNing and lives of students 😉 Does that work for you…

    Actually, I have been playing around with definitions for years – and around 12 months ago came up with this:

    What you DO to IMPROVE what you DO with what you KNOW and UNDERSTAND about “anything” – and ADAPT or TRANSFORM “yourself”…

    Now, I know it’s a bit of a “mouthful” – but it just makes “sense” to see it in this broader sense. Would love to hear what people think of this…or some other alternatives 🙂

    Take care,


  2. Pingback: KOTESOL Workshop – Reflective Practice: Reformulating Your Experience | Throwing Back Tokens
  3. Kevin Stein

    Oh Michael,

    Comment 1: I also think note 1 is an excellent way to start a blog post. Commenting on Note 1 is also a tremendous way to start a comment.

    Comment 2: I love reflective teaching. I couldn’t teach without it. And the reason is that it let’s me get closer to asking the questions that matter. When I have a problem in a class or with a student or even with admin, I often am focused on the wrong thing. But I want to make things better for my students (and of course myself as well). The process of reflecting on the concrete of what I think happened is the first step I need to take to actually gain the perspective I need to ask the question(s) that will make things better (or at least different).

    Wow, that’s all a little vague. All right. I’m gonna blog my full answer.


    • mikecorea


      Thanks so much for the comments. I am happy that you liked the notes. Your recent tweets got me thinking about the general civility that we find and I wanted to be sure to keep that up. Lately I have found that simply saying “That is a not a belief that I have” or “I think my beliefs are a bit different” has been a pretty nice way of diffusing potential arguments (not quite the right word but you get my point!).

      I really love your comments about reflection, lettting you “get closer to asking the questions that matter.” I think that often it is “The other things” that matter. Ahem.

      I don’t think your answer was vague at all. I think it is the start to a really nice blog post.

      (If you are the unlikely person that is reading this but has never been to Kevin’s excellent blog you will probably want to go there now: http://theotherthingsmatter.blogspot.com/)

      One thing I am finding a lot lately is that reflection means a lot of different things to different people and I feel like sometimes this makes productive conversations more difficult to achieve. Anyway that is probably another blog post as well.
      Take care and always thanks for reading and for the support.


  4. Vicky Loras

    Hi Mike,

    After attending Dale Coulter’s presentation at TESOL France in November about writing and reflecting (among others) which left me thinking for a long time, reading Josette’s post and now yours, reflection is definitely a necessary process for teaching and learning (learning is always a two-way street in my opinion, both on behalf of the teacher and the students – which is why the word ‘present’ leaves me a bit with a question mark).

    Is it written? Is it thought? What is it about? How the lesson went? How the students did? The teacher? What did they all learn – all of the above in my opinion, with emphasis on the last one. What did the teacher and the learners learn. To me, it is always a complmentary relationship.

    I would be very interested in seeing how it went at the conference and what results it had with the educators participating. As I told Josette, no pressure but I do hope you will blog about it : )

    I think it will be awesome!

    Super post,

    • mikecorea

      Thanks Vicky!

      I really appreciate your comments and support! 🙂
      I think your interest is just enough of a gentle nudge to get me to make a blog post about the symposium.

      In your comments, two things jumped out at me.
      1) The questions you asked:
      Is it written? Is it thought? What is it about? How the lesson went? How the students did? The teacher? What did they all learn – all of the above in my opinion, with emphasis on the last one. W
      I think these are all great questions to consider and I especially agree with the emphasis on the last one. I have this thought that teachers are often so focused on what they do/don’t do right/wrong that it becomes very easy to forget about the students and their learning.

      2) We share the same question mark on the word “present.”

      Once again, thanks so much. Your comments here got me more inspired for the workshop and actually helped me focus a bit more!


  5. Pingback: Considerations for different ways of reflecting « ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections
  6. Pingback: Considerations for reflection « ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections
  7. Pingback: Becoming a Better Teacher Through Reflective Practice? | ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections

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