The Reflective Teacher: A Taxonomy of Reflection (Part 3)

reflective teacher
reflective teacher

Reflection can be a challenging endeavor. It’s not something that’s fostered in school – typically someone else tells you how you’re doing! Teachers are often so caught up in the meeting the demands of the day, that they rarely have the luxury to muse on how things went. Moreover, teaching can be an isolating profession – one that dictates “custodial” time with students over “collaborative” time with peers. In an effort to help schools become more reflective learning environments, I’ve developed this “Taxonomy of Reflection” – modeled on Bloom’s approach.  It’s posted in four installments:

1.  A Taxonomy of  Reflection
2. The Reflective Student
3. The Reflective Teacher
The Reflective Principal

 See my Prezi Tour of the Taxonomy

3. The Reflective Teacher

Each level of reflection is structured to parallel Bloom’s taxonomy. (See installment 1 for more on the model). Assume that a teacher looked back on an lesson (or project, unit, course, etc) they have just taught. What sample questions might they ask themselves as they move from lower to higher order reflection? (Note: I’m not suggesting that all questions are asked after lesson – feel free to pick a few that work for you.) Remember that each level can be used to support mastery of the new Common Core standards.

taxonomy of reflection
taxonomy of reflection

Bloom’s Remembering: What did I do?
Teacher Reflection: What was the lesson? Did it address all the content? Was it completed on time? How did students “score” on the assessment?

Bloom’s Understanding: What was important about what I did? Did I meet my goals?
Teacher Reflection: Can I explain the major components of the lesson?  Do I understand how they connect with the previous / next unit of study? Where does this unit fit into the curriculum? What instructional strategies were used? Did I follow best practices and address the standards?

Bloom’s Application: When did I do this before? Where could I use this again?
Teacher Reflection: Did I build on content, product or process from previous lessons? How does this lesson scaffold the learning for the next lesson? How could I adapt the instructional approach to another lesson? How could this lesson be modified for different learners?

Bloom’s Analysis: Do I see any patterns or relationships in what I did?
Teacher Reflection: What background knowledge and skills did I assume students were bringing to the lesson? Were the instructional strategies I used the right ones for this assignment? Do I see any patterns in how I approached the lesson – such as pacing, grouping? Do I see patterns in my teaching style – for example do I comment after every student reply? What were the results of the approach I used – was it effective, or could I have eliminated or reorganized steps?

Bloom’s Evaluation: How well did I do? What worked? What do I need to improve?
Teacher Reflection: What are we learning and is it important? Were my assumptions about student background knowledge and skills accurate? Were any elements of the lesson more effective than other elements? Did some aspects need improvement? Were the needs of all learners met? What levels of mastery did students reach?  What have I learned about my strengths and my areas in need of improvement?  How am I progressing as a teacher?

Bloom’s Creation: What should I do next? What’s my plan / design?
Teacher Reflection: How would I incorporate the best aspects of this lesson in the future? What changes would I make to correct areas in need of improvement? How can I best use my strengths to improve? What steps should I take or resources should I use to meet my challenges? Is there training or networking that would help me to meet my professional goals? What suggestions do I have for our leadership or my peers to improve our learning environment?

image credit: flickr/duane.schoon

37 thoughts on “The Reflective Teacher: A Taxonomy of Reflection (Part 3)

  1. Reply
    Linda704 - January 9, 2010


    I see this Taxonomy of Reflection and associated questions as being an invaluable tool for instructional coaches when conferencing and working with teachers. I am currently writing my dissertation in which teacher reflections are the bulk of the data. I wish I would have had this a year ago. ūüėČ Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  2. Reply
    Peter Pappas - January 10, 2010

    I’ve been simmering the model on my brain’s back burner for awhile. Sorry I didn’t get it out sooner. Best of luck in your work.

  3. Reply
    Lydia Leimbach - February 21, 2010

    I think this model is crucial for us. Rubrics are useful up to a point but don’t stimulate students to think about the big picture. I have shared your graphic and sent people from my blog to yours. This set of articles should be required reading for all teachers and principals.

  4. Reply
    Peter Pappas - February 21, 2010

    Lydia, Glad you found the model applicable to your work. … And perhaps a respite from rubrics.

  5. Reply
    Don - August 18, 2010

    This is of great help. I face 150 freshman on thursday. I was working up a talk using prezi and found yours, then I found this. I’m feeling like I might be able to really help them as they take on life at an R1 university. Thanks.

  6. Reply
    Peter Pappas - August 18, 2010


    Thanks for taking the time to post. I’m pleased to hear about the many ways the taxonomy is used. Best of luck facing the 150!

  7. Reply
    Gareth Jacobson - March 20, 2011

    I really like the integration of Blooms taxonomy into the levels of reflective practice, it clearly shows how the ability to reflect is a hierarchical process that requires understanding of the challenges at each level. I also think reflection is generally not valued enough in our profession.

  8. Reply
    Peter Pappas - March 21, 2011

    Thanks Gareth,
    My approach to professional practice begins with the question “does this model what we would like to see students doing in the classroom?” If we want students to be reflective learners – teachers and administrators must reflect on their practice as well.

  9. Reply
    Christina McKeever - March 31, 2011

    What resources did you use to formulate your taxonomy/vision of reflection? I’m doing a project for a class on diffentiating supervision, and your model is exactly what I’ve been looking for in my research.

  10. Reply
    Peter Pappas - March 31, 2011

    Hi Christina,
    Of course Bloom’s taxonomy is the foundation. The rest came from my experience in the classroom – both as teacher and teacher trainer. Feel free to cite in your project – but I don’t have any documented research to back my model.

    best of luck

  11. Reply
    Kat - October 13, 2011

    I am currently a Secondary Ed. Math Major working on my portfolio. This taxonomy is absolutely genius and is something I intend to use throughout my career as a student and as an educator. Being reflective is incredibly important in the teaching and learning process, and this taxonomy makes the reflecting process very simple. Thanks, you’re wonderful!

  12. Reply
    Peter Pappas - October 14, 2011

    Hi Kat,
    Thanks for your support. I think at this point in your career, you’re off to a great start – monitoring and setting goals. An admirable perspective that should serve you well.
    Best of luck ~ Peter

  13. Reply
    Barbara - October 27, 2012

    Thank you, Peter, for this ingenious and simple way of looking at how teachers should assess their own presentation of the material. Teachers of future teachers- take note!

  14. Reply
    Peter Pappas - October 27, 2012

    Thanks for the kind words, Barbara.

  15. Reply
    Azmira - January 15, 2013

    Hi, I love your website and everything that you wrote. I have 2 questions about critical reflection.

    1. Is it necessary to write down a reflection or could it happen when you are thinking deeply about an issue but not necessarily writing it down?

    2. Can reflection be taught per se? Or does it need to be embedded in the learning process?

    Thank you ūüôā

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - January 15, 2013

      Hi Azmira,

      Glad you’re finding some inspiration in the post. In response to your questions:
      1. While I can see some merit to documenting reflections, I don’t think it’s essential it be in writing. My own style is to reflect in dialogue with others. (I sort of figure it out as I go along. It seems I think best in conversation). Others might want to write in a very private journal. Video, sketches, whatever helps you identify patterns.
      2. You need something to reflect on. Thus, I think that there’s a natural affinity for learning experiences that become the catalyst for reflection.

      In a classroom context, you may need to be very explicit in guiding the students to reflect on their learning. For the most part, they’ve never been asked to do that in school. (so they are often asking teachers “what’d I get?”) They will likely need support and modeling to get past the goal of trying to guess what their teacher wants them to say.

      Have fun with it and let the students know what you’re trying to accomplish. You can all figure it out together.
      ~ Cheers, Peter

  16. Reply
    Azmira - January 22, 2013

    Hi again!

    I’m very interested with what you said about ‘to reflect in dialogue with others’. How do you do this? Do you have preset questions to direct you in the dialogue? Or is it a free-flow discussion? (all experienced trainers/teachers said they ‘sort of figured out’ as they go along but hey they got it all tied up nicely like it has been staged – haha)

    Usually I conduct a discussion after every session to let my participants talk about the session, i.e. questions, opinions about the activities they have experienced during the session etc. Can this be considered as a dialogue? How do I ensure the quality of the discussion? Sometimes I provide the participants with Thinking Questions to get them started on the discussion. Are there any sequence on what questions I should be asking first in a discussion? i.e. arrange the questions based on Taxonomy of Reflections?

  17. Reply
    Peter Pappas - January 22, 2013


    yes – free-flow discussion

    It starts with good listening. I frequently stop and ask others to summarize what was just said. Or I may try a summary of my own. Then I mix in some of the prompts (from the taxonomy) as they fit.

    I’ve been doing it so long, it’s second nature and not scripted.

  18. Reply
    Jennifer Glenn - June 22, 2013

    Thanks for the idea of applying the taxonomy to the reflection process … you remind that the best ideas are simple … once you’ve seen or thought of them! We’re developing the use of the SOLO taxonomy for our school and will have a try at making up a taxonomy for that kind of reflection …

    Many thanks


    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - June 23, 2013

      Hi Jennifer, glad you were a bit inspired by the post. Please share a link to your adaptation when it’s complete.
      Cheers, Peter

  19. Reply
    Christy - November 13, 2014

    After watching the videos and reading the articles I do see how The Reflective Teacher: A Taxonomy of Reflection can greatly influence my teaching. It will give me an insight to my teaching, both good and bad. I will be able to assess myself and change accordingly,

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - November 13, 2014

      Hi Christy,
      Glad to hear you find the taxonomy useful for your professional growth. I greatly appreciate your feedback.

  20. Reply
    agustan s. - February 1, 2015

    I’m so interested about this approach “Taxonomy of Reflection” in learning to develop the way of teacher to more reflect about their lesson. A good ideas

  21. Reply
    Anica Derrick Seremaiah - March 4, 2016

    An inspiring piece. Blooms Taxonomy is definitely the number one checklist for an effective teacher as the curriculum practitioner. So many times teachers are guided by asking themselves questions. The more questions we ask, the more we enacts the curriculum better.

  22. Reply
    M. Warren - April 2, 2016

    The Reflective Teacher study is an extremely powerful resource tool!

  23. Reply
    Shiekha - August 20, 2016

    Kindly can you provide an example of how to apply this taxonomy
    I have conducted some post class conferences and I want to apply this taxonomy for analysis;however,I found it hard for analysis

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - August 20, 2016

      Hi Shiekha,

      Everything I have written the subject can be accessed by following this link. You will find all the prompts I developed in these various posts.

      The Taxonomy is not based on any formal research. I developed this model based on my years of teaching and training teachers. It was designed to offer a way to deepen learning and educator reflections.

      You are free to expand the model with your own research. Best of luck, Peter

  24. Reply

    […] Reflective Teacher by Peter Pappas […]

  25. Reply
    Shiekha - October 6, 2016

    Thank you Peter for ur reply
    I tried it and found it effective so far
    I used it to analyse some post lesson discussions n it was really useful to categorise teachers level of reflection

    All the best

  26. Reply
    John Whitmon - November 3, 2016

    That’s for this powerful tool! I serve as TSS coordinator,and will employee this model as apart of my discussion with induction teachers.

    Thanks so much !!

  27. Reply

    […] Reflective Teacher by Peter Pappas […]

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    […] his excellent blog post, The Reflective Teacher: A Taxonomy of Reflection (Part 3), Peter Pappas describes a Bloom‚Äôs Taxonomy of reflection which he has […]

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    […] Taxonomy of Reflection […]

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