Dean Shareski writes about the importance of modeling reflection for our students. I think most teachers do a lot of reflecting, but I doubt their students see it. I know mine don't typically.
"Imagine if every teacher recorded themselves each day and watched it. Hmmmm. We want our students to be reflective and would love for them to document and describe their learning in detail. Why aren't we actively modeling this? Not just for the sake of modeling but because it makes us better. Imagine if a movie director or actor never watched their work?"Another post from Dean caught my attention because of his push to help his students (preservice teachers) reflect but also his own reflection on how that is going. In this instance his focus is on having students give themselves a grade and justify it. My favorite bit, not surprisingly, is the idea that even very young students could do this.
"I suppose in some respects, I'm still assessing, assessing their assessments but my goal was to do two things. First to empower them to think deeply about their learning. While I've always advocated for reflection, I tried to emphasize more documentation. I still need to structure this better but that was my intent."
"I'm thinking that even 6 year olds should be able to assess themselves. If we give them the tools and expectations. As far as trust goes, it seems that it speaks to the climate of your classroom to some degree. I will say that since I was the one submitting the grade, if I felt it to be way out of line, I had the authority to adjust it, I just never did."
A brilliant teacher in my school, just down the hall from me, really struck me with her thoughts on how she helps her young students reflect on goals they set. Powerful. Simple, in many ways, but very powerful.
"During morning meeting my goal everyday (and sometimes I just forget...) is to read the reminders together with the students. Then each student decides what they want to work on that day - do they want to try to sit with their hands in their lap, do they want to make a goal of sharing, of listening, or of walking safely? They put a sticky note with their name on their poster. At the end of the day (if I 1. remember and 2. have the time) we talk about how their goals went - did they sit quietly, did they keep their hands in their lap, etc. I like that it lets us focus on just ONE behavior a day. During the reflection time one of my kids may have had a rough day but he can at least say, "my goal was to keep my hands in my lap and I did that." It is a good reminder to me to find the positive even on our most difficult days. Sure you threw your pants in the toilet, but you know what - you did walk safely. Thank you for that. Sometimes I ask them to identify what they did well that day from our posters as a way to get them to reflect on their behaviors. Some of them are not ready to grasp the larger intangible concept of setting a goal and trying to meet it, but the conversations allow us to repeat the language of the expected behaviors over and over again. The more we talk about those expected behaviors the more likely we are to see it."
"Schools should be places of reflection, learning spaces helping children see the world, to see their role in the world, the whole world.."My big take-away from all of this is the versatility of reflection. It is a critical tool for teachers and students in assessment, growth, personal and classroom management, and curiosity and creativity. If students were supported in becoming reflective learners I believe they would grow in all areas.