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Learning Experience Reflective Essay Example


Proficiency Analysis and Reflection

Evidence of a teachercandidate’s growth and development toward meeting the teaching proficienciesand evidence of the candidate’s ability to facilitate student learning comefrom a variety or sources. The courses you have taken, your own lifeexperiences, the designing and implementation of the teacher work sample andthe Field Experience do not occur in isolation from each other. They areclosely linked through theory, conceptual understanding and philosophy to practice.At this point in the education program you will have the opportunity toarticulate the links as they relate to the WOU Teaching proficiencies byanalyzing and reflecting about all of the proficiencies. Note that you do nothave to reflect on every element within a given proficiency. Finally, you willwrite a summary or concluding statement that ties your experiences together.


Seven WOU Teaching Proficiencies must be addressed in themini-work sample.

1.      ContentKnowledge and Pedagogy

2.     HumanDevelopment and Learning

3.     Diversity

4.     Assessmentand Instruction

5.     ClassroomClimate Conducive to Learning

7.     Technology

8. Philosophy, BestPractice and Reflection





Part 1: The organizingtable:

Create an organizer thatillustrates the relationships between the proficiencies and sources of evidencefrom the different components of the work sample, field experience, otherexperiences and courses. Be specific about which part or parts of the worksample, field experience, courses, etc… are used as evidence. For example, ifyou believe that your lesson adaptations from your lesson plans are goodevidence for Human Development and Learning or Diversity, list “lessonadaptations” or “varying needs” in lesson plans as the evidence rather thansimply listing lesson plans.

Each one of the sevenproficiencies should have at least two lines of evidence.



Sources of evidence:Many sources of evidence may be in your work sample. But work sample sources ofevidence should not be your only sources of evidence. This table should illustratea variety of different kinds of evidence. Beselective about the evidence you choose. Make it a best fit. The evidence you select can represent your best work in aparticular proficiency category or could be a work in progress. All evidenceshould demonstrate how you are moving toward meeting that proficiency. Examplesof evidence beyond the work sample include projects, observations in theclassrooms, essays, analysis and response to readings in coursework, workshopsattended, events attended etc.


Sources of evidence thatare not part of the work sample should be placed in the Appendix of the worksample.

Part 2: Analysis andReflection


1.     Foreach proficiency write an analysis about your growth. In the analysis connectprofessional readings, projects or assignments from teacher education or othercourses, theory to practice, and/or field experience to the evidence and to WOUteaching proficiencies.

2.    Thinkabout professional goals. Where do you think your next steps should be or whereshould your professional growth be directed?

3.    Afteranalyzing and reflecting about all six proficiencies, write a summary orconcluding statement that synthesizes and/or evaluates your student teachingexperiences as they relate to the teaching proficiencies. This is an overallessay. It should not include adding more evidence.



Use a variety of sourcesof evidence to support your statements about your professional growth.

Use the “Guidelines forWriting Strong Reflective Essays” to help write your analyses.









Guidelines for WritingStrong Reflective Essays


Reflection is anessential component of becoming an effective teacher. Your reflective essaysare a critical component of your mini-work sample. Without them, the worksample becomes little more than a collection of lessons. These essays requirethat you think about what you are doing, why you are doing it, what theoutcomes are, and how the information can be used to help you to improve andgrow (McLaughlin & Vogt, 1998). The reflection process offers insights intovarious dimensions of your teaching and learning that can lead to betterteaching. If you never reflect on your actions or beliefs, you will miss avaluable opportunity to improve your teaching (Schon, 1987). Your reflectionsin the mini work sample should be aligned with the teaching proficiencies.


Key Components of Reflections

In thereflections, you are assessing information or events, thinking about andanalyzing them, and then using the results to change or enhance your teachingin the future. Bullock and Hawks (2001) have identified three key componentsfor you to consider:


1. Description

The descriptioncomponent provides the foundation for the reflection. In this section, you aredescribing the information, evidence or event selected - who, what, when,where, and how. You are also describing why these were chosen to demonstrateyour growth towards meeting a particular proficiency.


2. Analysis

In this section,you are identifying the strengths of the selected information, evidence orevent, and areas on which to improve. For example, if you were to reflect abouta lesson plan that you had developed, you would identify the positivecomponents of the plan and its implementation and then emphasize areas toimprove the lesson the next time that you teach it. You need to be honest aboutyour strengths and weakness. Some evidence, such as a workshop certificate, maynot require you to reflect on how you might improve. You need to determine ifthe certificate is relevant as evidence to demonstrate your growth towardmeeting a particular proficiency and then explain in your analysis how thecertificate demonstrates growth.


3. Planning

This is a veryimportant component because it is here that you write about how theinformation, evidence and events have influenced you. What did you learn fromthem and how will this knowledge impact your future teaching?





Other Things to Consider

  • Write in the first person because the reflection is a personal account of your teaching and learning and your reactions to it.
  • The reflections should be accurate and go beyond superficial analysis.
  • You should formulate a thesis sentence in which you state clearly what the reflection will be about and then support that thesis.
  • Use your best writing skills. Your reflection should be clear and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Write clearly and concisely.
  • Be accurate and honest. It should demonstrate your ability to write about your strengths and weaknesses and provide insights into your development as a professional
  • Draw on your own expertise and synthesize the range of experiences you have had over the three terms- professional readings, observations, course assignments, workshops or inservices attended, and field experiences.


Example: Astudent impacted by your teaching


  • Describe him/her
  • Who is this child?
  • What is he/she like?
  • What impact did you have?
  • What specific examples can you give about the impact?


  • What positive impact did you have?
  • What interventions were tried?
  • What interventions worked?
  • What didn’t work?


  • What interventions could you use with other students?
  • What interventions might you never use again?
  • What impact did this student have on your philosophy?
  • How did your values change as a result of this experience?


*Adapted fromBullock, A. A., & Hawk, P.P (2001) Developing a teacher portfolio. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


Other References

McLaughlin, M.,& Vogt, M. (1998). Portfolio assessment for inservice teachers: Acollaborative model. In Professional portfolio models: Applications ineducation. Norwood, MA:Christopher-Gorden Publishers.


Schon, D. (1987).Synthesis of research on teachers’ reflective thinking. EducationalLeadership, 48(6),37-44.



Proficiency Analysis and Reflection Checklist


q      Reflects upon experiences and shows a developing understanding ofthe total practicum experience.        

q      Identifies successful and unsuccessful lessons, experiences,activities and assessments. Discusses what contributed to whatwent well, what was learned, and what could have been done differently toimprove your teaching and improve studentlearning. 

q      Refers to your own philosophy of education if/when appropriate.

q      Uses specific educational research, theories and philosophies toreflect on abilities, skills, and disposition.                               

q      Within each of the proficiencies, identifies professional goals toimprove performance and understanding that emerge based on the insights andexperiences discussed.

q      Includes an overall summary that synthesizes and/or evaluates yourstudent teaching experiences as they relate to the teaching proficiencies.

Below we offer an example of a thoughtful reflective essay that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.

Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CI Code of Conduct.

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Sample Reflective Essay #2

Author: Nekisa Mahzad

I have been a student at California State University Channel Islands (CI) for 5 semesters, and over the course of my stay I have grown and learned more that I thought possible. I came to this school from Moorpark Community College already knowing that I wanted to be an English teacher; I had taken numerous English courses and though I knew exactly what I was headed for-was I ever wrong. Going through the English program has taught me so much more than stuff about literature and language, it has taught me how to be me. I have learned here how to write and express myself, how to think for myself, and how to find the answers to the things that I don't know. Most importantly I have learned how important literature and language are.

When I started at CI, I thought I was going to spend the next 3 years reading classics, discussing them and then writing about them. That was what I did in community college English courses, so I didn't think it would be much different here. On the surface, to an outsider, I am sure that this is what it appears that C.I. English majors do. In most all my classes I did read, discuss, and write papers; however, I quickly found out that that there was so much more to it. One specific experience I had while at C.I. really shows how integrated this learning is. Instead of writing a paper for my final project in Perspectives of Multicultural Literature (ENGL 449), I decided with a friend to venture to an Indian reservation and compare it to a book we read by Sherman Alexie. We had a great time and we learned so much more that we ever could have done from writing a paper. The opportunity to do that showed me that there are so many ways that one can learn that are both fun and educational.

The English courses also taught me how powerful the written word and language can be. Words tell so much more than a story. Stories tell about life and the human condition, they bring up the past and people and cultures that are long gone. Literature teaches about the self and the world surrounding the self. From these classes I learned about the world, its people and its history; through literature I learned how we as humans are all related. By writing about what we learn and/or what we believe, we are learning how to express ourselves.

I know that my ability to write and express my ideas, thoughts and knowledge has grown stronger each semester. I have always struggled to put my thoughts on paper in a manner that is coherent and correct according to assignments. I can remember being told numerous times in community college to "organize your thoughts" or "provide more support and examples". These are the things that I have worked on and improved over the past couple of years and I feel that my work shows this. The papers I wrote when I first started here at C.I. were bland and short. In these early papers, I would just restate what we learned in class and what I had found in my research. I did not formulate my own ideas and support them with the works of others. The classes I have taken the past couple semesters have really help me shed that bad habit and write better papers with better ideas. I have learned how to write various styles of papers in different forms and different fields. I feel confident that I could write a paper about most anything and know how to cite and format it properly.

There are a couple of things that I do feel I lack the confidence and skill to perform, and that is what I hope to gain from participating in Capstone. I am scared to teach because I don't know how to share my knowledge with others-students who may have no idea what I am talking about. I hope to learn more about how teachers share their knowledge as part of my Capstone project.

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  • English teacher
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  • Print and digital publishing
  • Law
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