Sophomores begin writing reflective essays in English 10 classes By analyzing, explaining important past experiences, students learn life lessons

As she types her ideas on the keyboard, sophomore Bella Gomez reviews the rough draft of her reflective essay. For this particular assignment, she and other students must go into detail on how a profound experience has impacted their life. “I liked working on this assignment because it allowed me to write about this life-changing event and how it really affected me.” Photo Credit: Bella Gomez

While most English students are focusing on honing their academic voice and tone, sophomores in Virginie Guillemette’s class are venturing into a more vulnerable and personal style of writing: reflective essays. 

“Sometimes that can be a lesson or something that helped to form them, their personality, their approach to life, or just their standing,” Guillemette said. “Writing down your reflections is a wonderful exercise because it lets you formally review your experience and that is essential for growth.”

Opposed to regular essays, reflective essays are formatted differently with the student explaining their experience of a specific event or something that has affected their lives. Despite the unfamiliarity associated with this form of writing, students are expanding and reflecting upon experiences that have deeply changed their lives. In order to meet the requirements, students must demonstrate some sort of lesson or evolution in their story.

“The personal experience I’m describing is how my mother left and how it affected me,” sophomore Bella Gomez said. “I learned that it didn’t matter if she was in my life because I had people that cared about me. This assignment has made me feel that is okay to talk about the sadness of my past. I would like to give others the strength to not be afraid of something from their past or something about them in general, to be happy with who they are because everyone is awesome.

Furthermore, it is important that students are able to appeal to their peers and teach them the lesson they learned through their essays.

My essay was about how a good friend of mine was able to change my perspective on feelings and emotions. Growing up, I was never able to convey how I felt and was taught that any sign of vulnerability was a sign of weakness,” sophomore Van Anh Nguyen said. “They taught me that it was okay to let your guards down. Ever since then, I feel like I was able to live life a little more.”

Final drafts will be due in the upcoming week. Currently, the students are focused on drafting. 

“Reflection is one of those tools that people who are really connected to the idea of helping themselves grow consistently use. People who have been successful in life always use some form of reflection because the point of a reflection is to learn from your experience,” Guillemette said.

Have you ever written a reflective essay?