Reflection Toolkit

Introducing reflection as an activity

Within your initiative, you might want to run a reflective activity. This can be group discussions, debriefs of a shared experience, practical activities, or something completely different.

Set boundaries and state goals

To run a reflective activity it is important to set the boundaries of the activity as well as knowing what your goal of the activity is. Be clear in what you are asking the reflectors to do and provide them with clear instructions. This is crucial and should happen even if the reflectors sit for themselves and write quietly.

Setting boundaries for activities follows the rules of effective facilitation, and in being successful you should leave the reflectors with clear guidance about what to do and what not to do.

Although the steps are basic, they are often overlooked.  Quick tips for setting up a reflective activity include:

  • state the purpose of the activity (why you are doing it and what you hope the reflectors will gain)
  • tell them how much time they will have
  • tell them where they can be (for instance ‘stay in the room’ ‘stay in the seat’ ‘spread out to different tables’)
  • tell them who they should be with (for instance ‘go into groups of three’, ‘talk with people at your table’, ‘private activity that should be done alone’)
  • tell them what to do – be clear and give steps (for instance ‘first you will answer this question, then you will answer this, but I will tell you when to move on’, ‘find a secluded place and answer the prompts given on the paper in your notebook– I will tell you when you have 3 minutes left’)
  • tell them what NOT to do (for instance ‘this is not a time to talk about ____, you will have time for that in a later activity’, ‘you should not write down your answers – this is just about getting the ideas flowing’,’ this is not a time to disclose your innermost feelings – it is about looking critically at what happened and look forward’)
  • give them warnings about when the activity is about to finish so they have time to wrap up, for instance five minutes before the end
  • allow for quick clarifying questions
  • be present during the activity to answer questions that might come up

This list is not complete, but should give you some ideas about how to set up clear guidance and boundaries for an activity.


Think about trust, confidentiality, and numbers

One very important aspect of running reflective activities is trust. Therefore you should be clear about what the reflections will be used for, i.e. whether the reflections are completely private, or to be shared with others. Different sized audiences may change the things people are comfortable sharing. If you are not clear at the outset about how the reflections will be used, you may lose the reflectors’ trust.

This also means that you should consider whether the type of questions/activity fits with the number of participants. An activity that is fun, supportive, and safe for three people might not feel the same in groups of eight or twelve.

It can be helpful to ask yourself how many people would you be comfortable doing the activity with, and think about how you compare to an average person. Relatively, you might be very keen to share or be quite shy. Use this information to adjust your group sizes accordingly.


If you need inspiration for different types of reflective activities, see 'Reflecting for self-awareness' in the Reflectors’ Toolkit and general advice on components of reflective tasks to make your own.

Reflecting for self-awareness (within the Reflectors’ Toolkit) 

Components of reflective tasks (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)


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