Introduction

People often spend at least few minutes every day before the mirror. Why do you stand before a mirror? What do you see when you look at the mirror? 'You', right? Technically speaking we stand before a mirror to analyze ourselves by looking at our own reflection in the mirror.

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The same can be said about the reflective compositions. A reflective composition is the result of introspection into past experiences or memorable events in our lives. We introspect into these memorable events and reflect over them with regards the emotions and influences they have left in our lives. In simple words a reflective essay is a piece of ‘you’ being presented in words.

What is Reflection? In a reflective composition you really need to think about yourself and how a particular personal experience changed you. It is not merely a recollection of your experience but an analysis of the memories of your feelings, expressing them, reflecting on them with thoughts, observations and opinions to express what you have learned about yourself from the experience; the growth, change or development impacted by the experience. This Smart learning module will help you to master the art presenting yourself in words by analyzing your experiences. In other words it will help you to master the art of writing good reflective essays.

A reflective essay is a piece of writing that expresses your own feelings, views, beliefs, attitudes and observations about a particular subject in connection with a personal experience. It will allow you to reflect on your personal experiences and express the impact of those experiences in your personal life. The goal of a reflective essay is to not only to narrate your personal experiences but to assess them in the light of the emotions they have aroused in you, the change they brought in your life, your findings in connection with the experiences and the conclusion you have arrived. It is true that a reflective essay concentrates on your ideas and reflections about a topic based on your personal experience. But you should prove the validly and universality of your arguments.

To do so, the information that led you to your conclusions should be incorporated in the essay. Having references adds to your credibility and illustrates that your findings result from both facts and personal experience. A good reflective essay includes an insightful interpretation of the matter at hand. The feelings and experiences that you write about in the essay should be based on your own perception and showcase to the readers why your revelation is significant on a larger scale.

Reflective essays help a person to become more attuned to noticing, listening, recording, reflecting and responding to the realities around him/her - be it social, professional or academic. Through the process of reflecting a person's perspective and attitudes will grow and change. The mindful, reflective stand will make him/her more responsive and responsible to issues around him or her. Reflective writings will help the writers to observe events, human interactions, social realities etc. around him/her; doing so will make him/her to be more conscious of his/her emotional responses, help him/her to contextualize observations and be more sensitive.

One element that sets a reflective essay apart from other kinds of essays is its personal tone. Reflective essays tend to be deeply personal to the writer. Some techniques like the use of brief narration and first-person point of view can be found in a reflective essay. It demonstrates personal growth and change on the part of the writer. The readers will feel that they were with the writer when the event occurred and are persuaded to reach the same conclusion the reader is trying to impart.

A Reflective writing requires higher order thinking skills such as: Analysis A reflective essay will break down and analyze a particular experience into smaller parts and draw meaning from it. It analyzes and shows the reader the significance of a particular event or experience and its credibility and universal application.

Synthesis

A reflective essay expresses how do the components of your experience relate or react in the given situation, how similar experiences and interactions introduced changes in your outlook, what have you learned from your experience etc.

Evaluation

A reflective essay should evaluate your experience. It shows your attitude towards the subject, your degree of subjectivity, how it affected you, what you accept or reject, how the experience will help you to perceive or act differently in the future etc.

A reflective essay is not merely scribbling some thoughts that come up in your mind. It has a definitive purpose that you want to accomplish - to learn, to improve, to demonstrate an insight through your essay.

Of course, a reflective essay is personal, reflective and based on experience and observations but at the same time the style of presentation should be standardized. One has to use the standard format for preparing a reflective essay.

A reflective essay is a form of writing that examines and observes the individual experience. When writing a reflective essay, it is important to use descriptive language. Reflective essays are based upon your own experiences, so it is expected that you write about yourself, your ideas and your opinions. As a result, it is proper to use first person pronouns such as “I” or “me” in these essays.

Structure

The structure of a reflective essay is very similar to the structure of most academic writings. A common structure for reflective essays is given below. Introduction When writing an introduction, present the purpose of your reflection. Think of the introduction as a brief preview to the rest of your reflection. Body In the body of your reflective essay, your story should begin to unfold and ideas will begin to appear. The body should discuss in detail your experiences, feelings, facts, findings, the development it brought about in your life, the growth you achieved through the experience, the lessons you learned and relevance of your findings in the society at large.

Conclusion

The conclusion to your reflective essay should smoothly tie all strings of your story. In the conclusion you should remind the readers the impact of your experience in your personal life and the convictions and changes it brought about in your life and its universal significance and relevance.

Let us go through a step by step procedure in writing a reflective essay.

Step 1: Compose Questions Before starting with your reflection essay, ask yourself a couple of questions regarding the topic, such as: how do I feel about this topic? How does it affect me? If it doesn't affect me, why? Notice that the questions are all personal. That is because a reflection essay asks you to express your insights. Also do some research to gather some information about your topic to get more ideas about the topic.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Brainstorming is simply reflecting on your experience and the questions you have formulated in connection with your experience. Gather ideas and cluster your notes around the headings you might use in the body paragraphs.

Step 3: Craft Your Thesis

Try to summarize your answers into a single statement. This will give you the main idea that you are going to present in your essay. Formulate this idea into a presentable thesis statement.

Step 4: Write Your Hook

The very beginning of your essay is called the hook because it “hooks” your readers’ attention. The hook should relate to the topic of your essay, but it can take many forms. It can be an anecdote, a fact, a quote, or a rhetorical question.

Step 5: Start Writing

Now that you have the key ingredients for your essay, you are ready to start writing your reflective essay which should have the following parts. Begin the introduction with your hook and connect it with your thesis using a transition sentence that relates your hook to your thesis. With your thesis statement, identify the arguments or ideas that will support it. You may expand or write more about each supporting idea in a paragraph. Each of these paragraphs will then be the body of your essay. Try to include factual statements in these body paragraphs, such as what you have observed, so that your claims are well supported. Sufficient reference to facts is a good way of giving substance to your reflections.

In your reflection essay's conclusion, briefly restate your main insight or thesis. You may end with a question, asking how others might have thought about the same topic. You may also end with a challenge to your readers, such as asking them to reflect on the same topic. Revise your Essay

After writing your reflective essay, revise it, correct the mistakes, and make desirable changes to make it presentable.