‘Did anyone think the trees were students?’ Using poetry as a tool for critical reflection.


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The practice of reflection in teacher education is a contentious area. Debates have focused on the nature of reflection and how to evidence that it is taking place. Students training to be teachers in the UK are expected to be taught about reflection and incorporate it into their practice. This qualitative study took place in response to difficulties trainee teachers had in grasping abstract concepts. The study explores the use of reading poetry as a tool for facilitating reflection. Data were gathered by observing groups at work with the poems and by interviewing the participants. The findings were that poetry particularly encourages students to venture to areas that they may not address unprompted. It also encouraged a particular form of reflection, to do with the nature of teacher identity and the value of teaching. We suggest that further studies with larger sample groups could be carried out to test these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-820
Number of pages14
JournalReflective Practice
Issue number6
Early online date27 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • reflection
  • teacher education
  • poetry reading


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