As educators, the things that make it all worthwhile for us is the look on a learner’s face when they have that aha moment, that “I did it” moment, or that moment when they reach success after failure. These are the moments that we live for in the classrooms. These moments are validation that we are making a difference in the lives of our learners. However, I recently saw a look on a learner’s face that I had never seen before, a very positive look, a very powerful look. I wanted to share with you how it happened.
So you incorporate opportunities for your learners to reflect in your classroom, right? Great! Reflection is a valuable tool in the classroom. It provides educators with an opportunity to communicate, receive feedback, connect with learners, measure the depth and value of learning, and much more that I probably haven’t even thought of yet. Reflection can and should be done regularly throughout the learning process as well as at the end or culmination of a project or unit. Share with your learners the importance of reflection for growth and understanding, even provide examples from your own life, and you will be amazed at the results.
My first experience with reflection came from a fellow educator who showed me how to redirect, or prompt if you will, learners to focus more on particular areas where they needed to improve and I wanted to see improvement. Learners were given a notecard and asked to rate on a scale of 1-5 their level of productivity. They immediately became aware of an area I thought could be improved and also were able to reflect on their current status. Now, not all students will be willing to write an accurate number down on their notecard, but they knew. They immediately had a starting point and a goal. Notecards were collected and the level of productivity in the classroom quickly increased. The entire process lasted 3 minutes and probably cut the amount of time needed to complete the activity in half.
Ever since I have incorporated various kinds of reflection regularly into my classroom. The instance that sparked this posting came from a reflection at the end of a project. The reflection had a few different parts, and all were for different purposes. We will focus on the part in which learners reflected on the project and provided feedback on opportunities for improvement in my classroom and for that specific project. I always receive interesting feedback worthy of being considered. The particular reflection items asked students how they felt about my classroom and what I could do to help them be more successful. I might normally respond by making wholistic adjustments that affect the whole class, whole class discussions so no one feels singled out, or making sure to provide alternatives for students that asked for them.
However, for this reflection I tried something that I have not yet done. I sat down. I sat down with each learner who provided less than positive feedback. Wow did we have some meaningful one-on-one conversations about their reflection responses. The look on their faces when they saw that not only did I read what they wrote, but that I was concerned about them individually and wanted to make a difference for them, it was priceless. It was the kind of look I get from my own sons when they have the realization that I truly care about them and am behind them 100%. But this post is not about the look on their faces, it’s about the changes I’ve seen in them since having those conversations. I have never seen them try as hard, care as much, or have as much success as they have since I made the decision to sit down with them.