08 November 2010

Reflection in Education? What's the point?

Reflection in education may be (other than critical thinking) the single most important skill we, as teachers, should be teaching students. I remember my undergraduate work here at SNU very well. We worked on our portfolio and each artifact had a reflection form with it. I even remember reflecting on a reflection once! I will tell you; even as a student who was an adult (I went back to school when I was 36) I didn’t really see the point in reflection.

It was not until I began my student teaching that I began to see reflection/journaling as an activity that was worth my time. I started to blog during my 6-week student teaching assignment at Cooper Middle School. I started to do it because I wasn’t allowed to teach (except for 1 week). I didn’t have anything else to do, so I started cataloging my days, reflecting on what I would do differently if I were the one pushing the buttons in class. I quickly learned that this was a great way to process and think through what was going on in my brain. I’ve learned since then that it is also a great way to chronicle events for later reflection. I love to go back and see just how much I’ve grown in my practice since I first started teaching.

Unfortunately, I only have students for one single year (sometimes I get them for two if they take AP Physics) and this generally isn’t enough time to instill the practice of reflecting. But maybe, just maybe, I’m planting a seed! Just this year, I have started having students blog each week using the following prompts:
1.    The thing that really stood out as being really significant to me this week was....
2.    The things I did this week that helped me learn best included....
3.    The things that hindered my learning this week included....
4.    I felt frustrated sometimes when....
5.    I was curious about....

While this is my first real attempt to have students do any kind of reflective writing, I feel like it could be improved upon (and will be). I have encountered some resistance to forcing students into the act of reflection. Many do not see the point and don’t want to work with the prompts. Even my own children (who are both in my class this year) are resistant. I definitely need to work on making this meaningful and useful for them. I hope, at some point, to have them go back and look at what they were thinking now at some later point in the year. Growth! It’s all about growth! They will see it, I just have to figure out a way to make it plain enough for everyone to “get it”.

2 comments: