Monday, September 29, 2014

We Reflect So We Can Grow

Reflections are powerful.  They help us to celebrate our successes and learn from our shortcomings. They give us direction and purpose so we can learn and grow.  As educators we are not only expected to reflect, but most of us instinctively do it and are so much better for it.   And just as it helps me learn and grow, it can also be a powerful experience for our students.

Reflection in my classes can be both intentional and unintentional.  In my ESL classes, students blog and most of their writing consists on reflecting.  My high schoolers blog daily while my middle schoolers just started blogging this year and are expected to post at least once a week.  Last year, my high schoolers blogged about good things in their life, but this year as their writing has evolved, blogging has become more of an exit ticket.  My middle schoolers are using blogging to develop their writing skills, but we try to work in a point of reflection and self-expression. All blogging in ESL is free writing,  but the reflection is certainly intentional.  There are a couple of other ways that students reflect in my classes.  As they set goals, I always have them reflect on what they have done right in the past and start their goal planning there.   This reflection is semi-intentional as they focus mostly on future. Lastly, they reflect during peer editing and review.  While their main purpose is to review/edit their peer's work, I will also ask them to think about their own work and try to learn from other's corrections. Just like real life, sometimes we learn from our own mistakes, sometimes we (thankfully) learn from others'.

What's the most powerful type of reflection?  All of them.  As long as we are reflecting, we are growing.  Looking back not to regret, but rather to build on our successes and learn from our failures, always hoping for a better tomorrow.


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