Five quick ways to write reflectively

This post is from Lydia Arnold, one of the doctoral candidates on the University’s professional Doctorate in Higher Education (EdD).  Her blogs cover work-based learning, technology, creative assessment, facilitation and research and in this case writing reflectively. Here are five quick points that provide some structure for capturing reflection and adding depth:
  1. Imagine an audience for your musings. It’s hard to write without an audience. Write like you are talking to someone that you trust and connect with, and to extend your thoughts, imagine their probing questions when you hit natural pauses.
  2. Talk, don’t just write. Use voice memos on your phone to capture thoughts in the moment and then write them down when back at base. Some of the most reflective thoughts happen in the car – catch them! This model is effective with adults and children alike.
  3. Use a model. A blank page can be daunting, so use a reflective model to provide a writing frame for your reflections. Gibbs is my favourite but there are others too.
  4. Go beyond describing what happened in an event or situation. Always follow up with the question, so what? (so what … for me, for my students, for my colleagues, for my CPD needs, for my confidence, for my progression , for my efficiency, for my well-being?).
  5. Write quickly, naturally and without concern for prose. This is a first layer of reflection. Then  a) develop the text and tidy it up and b) add comments or text boxes to annotate and add further observations on your initial thoughts. Comments or annotations can add major depth compared to a first attempt – ‘when I wrote this, I was thinking …. And I thought this because … but now I have discussed it with my colleague/friend and have revised my original understanding’ or ‘ I can see the choices I made here were limited by …’. Adding layers to a reflection in this way can be very productive and can help us to question how we see things in the moment.