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How Schools Can Support Teachers’ Reflective Practices

By Tristan Reynolds
How Schools Can Support Teachers’ Reflective Practices

International educators have access to a wider variety of experiences and resources than many other teachers. To fully use those resources, however, it’s important that we deliberately reflect on our own experiences, intentions, biases, and knowledge. School leaders can take several steps to create a culture of reflective practice that can improve both teacher and student performance.

Because we work in an international, cross-cultural context, it’s particularly important to pay attention to how reflection can help us understand our work as educators. Researcher Donna Roskell (2013) has found that many international teachers have “struggled to re-form their professional identity” in educational contexts that might have very different practices around instruction, assessment, and school culture from the environments that international teachers are coming from. A reflection on teaching practices can help educators reform professional identities and improve their practice as teachers. Fortunately, reflection is a vital component of good teaching anywhere in the world. According to educational theorist, China Jenkins (2018), strong teaching “requires the development of cultural consciousness and engagement in critical reflection about the influence of culture in the class.” This is true no matter what country you come from or what country you teach in. Reflection can help teachers build an inclusive curriculum, a cosmopolitan classroom culture, and a more student-centered school experience.

There are a variety of practices that effective educators use to reflect on their teaching, from keeping a professional journal (Knight, 2018) or meditation (des Vignes & Wiley, 2018) to more spiritually-influenced practices like the Jesuit Examen (Thibodeaux, 2015). While reflection is often an individual practice, it’s important to understand how schools can create space and support for teachers to engage in constructive reflection.

Here are several steps that schools and school leaders can take. These steps promote reflection for teachers and, together, can create a culture of reflective practice in a school.

  1. Carve out time for reflection:

Teachers often have great demands placed on their time: preparing lessons, grading work, engaging in extracurricular student guidance, meeting with parents and stakeholders, and leading initiatives around the school. School leaders can show that reflection is a priority by explicitly scheduling time into the school week for teachers to journal, meet and discuss, and/or look back on their day or week to process what has worked well and what might need to be adjusted. If we remember the old phrase “time is money,” then we can understand that budgeting time is a good way of putting real resources behind supporting teachers’ reflective practice.

  1. Offer professional development on best reflective practices:

Professional development should familiarize teachers with different ways of conceptualizing and analyzing reflective cycles (Cambridge International Teaching & Learning Team, n.d.), breaking down common misconceptions, and providing checklists that teachers can use to guide their own reflective practices (Ibid).  This type of professional development requires sustained attention over time (Bibbo & d’Erizans, 2014), but the investment pays off in more reflective, purposeful teaching.

  1. Build opportunities for collaborative reflection: 

It’s a common misconception that reflection is a solitary practice. Strong reflection can require collaboration with others (Cambridge International Teaching & Learning Team, n.d.). This collaboration can take the form of learning walks (Marvel, 2018), case studies (Jaeger, 2013), or peer observations (Knight, 2018). Making these practices part of school routines and culture can promote collaborative reflection, and support teachers in and out of the classroom.

Working in international education requires careful attention to our practices and actions as educators. A focused, regular practice of reflection can help teachers purposefully and sensitively guide their students in their development as full human beings and scholars. To facilitate this, schools and school leaders can take a few steps, outlined above, to create a culture of reflective practice in their schools which will support teachers and students in their academic journeys.



Bibbo, T., & d’Erizans, R. (2014). Is Professional Development Really a Benefit to Students? The International Educator (Online).

Cambridge International Teaching & Learning Team. (n.d.). Getting started with Reflective Practice. Cambridge Assessment International Education. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from

des Vignes, D., & Wiley, J. (2018). Enhancing Vitality and Positivity Through Reflection. The International Educator Online.

Jaeger, E. L. (2013). Teacher Reflection: Supports, Barriers, and Results. Issues in Teacher Education, 22(1), 89–104.

Jenkins, C. M. (2018). Educators, Question Your Level of Cultural Responsiveness. Journal on Empowering Teaching Excellence, 2(2).

Knight, S. (n.d.). Three Reflective Practices for Effectiveness. ASCD. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from

Marvel, A. (2018). The Place of Reflection in PD. Edutopia.

Roskell, D. (2013). Cross-cultural transition: International teachers’ experience of ‘culture shock.’ Journal of Research in International Education, 12(2), 155–172.

Thibodeaux, M. (2015). Try the Daily Examen. Loyola Press.

Tristan Reynolds is a teacher at VIS Experimental School in Taiwan. He has taught in Taiwan and the United States. He holds a master's degree in education from Johns Hopkins University. 




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