Reflective Journaling: A Brief Read

Mala Mathew  •  Sep 20, 2021  •  5 min read

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Reflective Journaling: A Brief Read

Before you start your reflective journaling journey, we’ve made this tiny brief that will guide your writing.

Your reflective pieces build on each other and when your course is done they will live on as evidence of your growth and learning—not just for you, but for others as well.

So…first things first.

What is a Reflective Journal?

Well, simply put, it is an opportunity to engage creatively yet critically and analytically with your learning experience and assess theories against personal experience—potentially increasing self-awareness.

There is no absolute way to write a reflective journal piece. However, we have a few guidelines that you could use: 

Share your experience! 

When you write, focus on what the experience is not just for you, but within you. Share things that make you think—even if they also make you feel uneasy.

The goal here is not to write down what happens in class. The goal is to give an insight into the growth and learning that is possible, fully knowing that it will be different for each person. If you find yourself rehashing what happened in chronological order, step away from your desk and come back when something clicks. We promise you will get more value that way. 

Find your voice.  

As you’re creating a journal, write in first person to recreate your learning experience. 

So…what voice will you take on? Are you an inspirational voice…motivating your reader to learn from you? Are you a scholarly voice…presenting your thoughts with evidence to back it? Or maybe you are a challenging voice…pushing your reader to think for themselves? You could be the good, old, funny voice with humour— or maybe you have all these voices! It’s up to you, really.  You could have a chat with your reader, much like we’re doing right now if you want.   

Without context, words have no meaning. 

Your reader is not with you through your learning journey, so be sure to give them some context. As you write, consider how it will read for your reader. That being said, don’t explain the content of your course…instead, pick out the bits and pieces of your learning experience that impacted you the most and tell your reader how it felt and what about it led to the “Aha!”. 

Collaboration makes it better. 

Your peers and mentors are a crucial part of your journey. You can always ask them to contribute their thoughts on topics and reflect on them. So go ahead and approach others about featuring them in your reflective journaling. It’s always refreshing to gain varied perspectives. 

A picture is worth a thousand words.

The adage speaks for itself, at times you’ll feel that you can express yourself in a different form, maybe a comic? Or a picture? Maybe even a metaphor? Sometimes correlating learnings with a movie or book or poem that someone has seen or read can be powerful. So…while you are writing a reflective journal, you could add different forms of expression to it if you feel it explains your experience better.

Quality over quantity

Proofread it once and then proofread it once again. Reading your writing from the last line upwards is a good trick to slow down your brain and check for errors otherwise missed. 

 

Here are some writing prompts that may help your writing process, particularly the “analytical” aspect of reflection:

  • How would you apply this in a past situation? How would it have changed the outcome?
  • What do you think can further this thought process? 
  • What from the session/class/course has affected you most ( positively or negatively) and why do you think it affected you more than other thoughts that affected you? 
  • If you could relive the experience, what would you change?
  • Go into the lesson looking for the top three words or phrases for the day. 
  • Do you have any worries regarding the lesson? What actions are you taking to relieve them? 
  • How is this experience impacting your everyday life or the lives of others? 
  • Are you experiencing a form of healing, self-discovery, self-fulfillment? If yes, how? 
  • Revisit the goals you set at the start of the course, and address your achievements and such. 
  • Share something you’re too scared to share. It’s a challenge but take it! 
  • What did you love today? What disappointed you today? What did you accomplish today? What about today are you grateful for? 

Before we conclude, we thought you’d enjoy a more visual approach to Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle Graham Gibbs (1988) over a boring paragraph.

 

All in all, reflection is super useful for deeper learning and quality comprehension of your experiences. Don’t forget to tie in your learnings to what you’ll do differently in the future, within your coaching practice but also at work, in communications, within relationships, etc— that is the point at the end of the day. 

Happy reflective journey! We can’t wait to hear from you! 

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Mala Mathew

Mala

Mala Annamma Mathew is an educator specializing in media and digital literacy for young students. Currently, she is pursuing her second master’s degree in Digital Media: Education, at University College London, the number one (according to Top University Ranking) university for education-related degrees in the world. She has over 8 years of experience in education and is also an examiner for the International Baccalaureate.

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