Borton’s Model Of Reflection

How can we increase our self-awareness?

In order to provide a framework for methods, practices and processes for building knowledge and understanding of our teaching and learning experiences, there are several models of reflection available. All can help to direct individual reflection and make us more effective teachers. One such model is called Borton’s Model of Reflection.

Reach, Touch and Teach was published in 1970 by an American school teacher, Terry Norton. Within this book he developed a What, So What, Now What sequence of reflective education that also acts as a framework for reflective practice.

Norton describes this model as a fluid process where no part of it can exclude another – it is a “continuous integrated flow”with no beginning or end.

What 

In this part of the process you describe what has happened in relation to a task, event or experience.  This should succinctly describe what has happened, what you and others have been doing.

Some questions you might ask are:

What

  • … happened?
  • … did other people do who were involved in this?
  • … did I see/do?
  • … was my reaction to it
  • … is the purpose of returning to this situation?
So What 

This is an analysis of the event. This is where you try to make sense of what has happened in the situation you described and to consider what you could have done differently. Why did things happen in the way they did?

Norton says,

The So What stage is rational, intellectual, cognitive – a delving into the meaning of what has just happened…

Some questions you might ask are:

So what

  • … did I feel at the time of the lesson?
  • … are my feelings now, after the lesson, any different from what I experienced at the time?
  • … were the effects of what I did (or did not do)?
  • … positive aspects now surface from the experience?
  • … have I noticed about my teaching behaviour in practice by taking a more measured look at it?
  • … observations does any colleague helping me to reflect on my practice make of the way I acted at the time?
  • … is the purpose of returning to this lesson?
Now what 

These are the proposed actions following an event, experience, lesson etc. This is the stage which requires you to think about what you are going to do next and what the consequences of your actions might be.

Some questions you may ask include:

Now what…

  • …are the implications for me and others in school based on what I have described and analysed?
  • …difference does it make to the students if I choose to do nothing?
  • …is the main learning that I take from reflecting on my practice in this way?
  • …help do I need to help me ‘action’ the results of my reflections?
  • …aspect should be tackled first?

You might find Borton’s model works for you. As TB himself says,

It provides an organised way of increasing awareness (What), evaluating information (So What), and experimenting with new behaviour (Now What).

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