The Importance of Sojourn Reflection

Great news! I had some of my first interviews this week! Although I won’t be sharing any specifics from the conversations as it’s confidential, I can say that each one was different, but there were still some similarities in themes. It’ll be interesting to analyze later.

In preparation for the interviews, I often read the Teaching Across Borders participants past blog posts. I recommend reading about their stories and adventures abroad! It’s clear that the participants learn a lot from the experiences. Blogging is not only a way to share their experiences, but is also a means to learn from their experiences. In a Bachelor of Education, reflections are an integral part of our assessment in most courses (it’s quite different from other degrees). Reflecting can sometimes feel like a nuisance, but it has benefits!

Handwritten Text Self Reflection

  • Reflection gives means for learner autonomy.  
  • In language learning, reflection allows for intercultural communicative competence (ICC) to be developed which is more related to cultural understanding.
  • Critical Reflection in pre-service teachers who taught abroad promotes multicultural competencies in teaching and learning, specifically related to challenging their own beliefs and perspectives, helping them identify bias’ and challenging their ideas about themselves and others.
  • Reflection through platforms like blogs allows for information to be shared and dialogue between classmates and readers to be generated.

Critical reflection involves acknowledging how your own self (culture, experiences, assumptions) is influencing your knowledge and perspective.  In reflection, instead of just restating what happened in the day, it’s important to discuss the issues and generate dialogue. Therefore class blogs and having student discussions on reflections was found to be an important component of critical reflection. Often, in my program, we write reflections that aren’t shared; however, when we do share them on online it has more value.

I personally found reflection assignments in a lot of my courses to be a nuisance (just another assignment to be completed); however, once I started my practicum I really enjoyed sharing my experience with others and reflection was an important means for me to organize my thoughts and experiences. It’s an important part of debriefing an experience and learning from it. With any lesson, teachers will reflect either formally or informally. It’s just about thinking about what worked or didn’t work, were the objectives met, did I differentiate enough, etc. This is very important in improving your practice! What are your thoughts on reflection?

References

Lee, L. (2011). Blogging: Promoting learner autonomy and intercultural competence through study abroad. Language Learning & Technology, 15(3, SI), 87–109. https://doi.org/10.1.1.474.6258

Sharma, S., Phillion, J., & Malewski, E. (2011). Examining the practice of critical reflection for developing pre-service teachers’ multicultural competencies : Findings from a study abroad program in Honduras. Issues in Teacher Education, 20(2), 9–22.

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