Writing from the Inside
The Power of Reflective Writing in the Classroom
Saint Martin’s University
Maureen Hall [+–]
University of Massachusetts
Maureen Hall (PhD University of Virginia) is an Assistant Professor in the Education Department at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Massachusetts. As a member of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, her work focuses on Cognitive-Affective Learning. Her current research projects focus on the cognitive and affective dimensions of service learning with pre-service teachers, the professional development of teachers, and the integration of contemplative practices to deepen learning. She also practices meditation and is a lifelong horsewoman and passionate polo player.
Writing from the Inside: The Power of Reflective Writing in the Classroom demonstrates the value of contemplative practice in education and shows how it can deepen learning through reflective writing. The book’s perspective draws on John Dewey’s definition of reflection as an “active, persistent, and careful consideration” of knowledge. It defines reflective writing as a writing process characterized by consideration or reconsideration of concepts and experiences for the purpose of beginning or doing the serious work of consolidating deep, thoughtful, and perhaps even transformative insights. This “active, persistent, and careful consideration” of ideas and experiences through writing mediates the busy, stressful, and sometimes superficial culture surrounding our students and establishes a climate for mindful, focused work.
Each chapter of Writing from the Inside: The Power of Reflective Writing in the Classroom provides suggested activities for teachers and students and examples of assessment practices for reflective writing activities. The work’s reflective writing assignments and assessments serve as a practical resource for teachers of writing and other disciplines in higher education and grades 9-12. The authors review the theoretical foundation of reflective writing and offer a range of practical activities in writing pedagogy, affective learning, contemplative practice, and the development of a community of writers. These reveal the value of incorporating a reflective focus in the writing classroom as well as in other subjects for both students and teachers. Such a focus helps to foster creation as an impulse to connect and an urge to make meaning out of the disorderly experiences of daily life.
Students value the therapeutic, stress-relieving effects of contemplative writing, its ability to create community and interconnectedness, and its benefits for preparing the mind for focused work by helping them to concentrate on the present moment and experience deeper learning. The approach helps them learn how to take on identities as writers and to make deep connections to writing communities within the class and to the community of writers at large, thus bolstering the possibilities for more successful teaching and learning. Teachers can also benefit from a regular practice of reflective writing because of its potential for personal enlightenment, professional development, and membership in a community of scholars. Pre-service and in-service teachers benefit from contemplative writing practice, which helps them gain insight into their own identity as writers and writing teachers.
Writing from the Inside is geared to an international audience of English and writing teachers at the secondary and college/university level, teachers in other disciplines, and teacher educators. It is relevant to those interested in novel and unconventional pedagogical approaches, contemplative practices, and the notion of reflective writing as a life practice. Suggested activities in each chapter provide for many different types of practical application, including exercises for the teacher as an individual and specific pedagogy for the classroom. The authors show through numerous examples that reflective writing for discovery and critical thinking can be used at any point in the writing and learning process in English classes as well as in other disciplines.
Series: Frameworks for Writing