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Program Design, Development, and Quality

Focus on Reflection for Learning

Focus on Reflection for Learning

Reflection For Educators

You want this! A reflective practice is learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and practice (Finlay, 2008). Reflection is a systematic reviewing process for all educators which allows us to link one experience to the next, making sure students make progress. Using reflection as an intentional practice is not only great for students, but also imperative for educators because it show us how much a student is a) paying attention b) if they are able to retain the information and c) provides an opportunity for the student to pause to articulate their learning. In plainer terms, this shows us if the students get it! You will know if your students are grasping concepts in any subject by using a strong reflection question. As facilitators of learning, we need to know in real time how students are receiving the information we are sharing. Whether you are in a traditional classroom setting or in a non-profit youth serving environment– recapping, reflecting, and revisiting content is useful for everyone!

Further, there are even reflection questions designed for the educator to evaluate your own facilitation practice. In the same way want to teach students to become critical thinkers about their learning, it is equally as important for you to think about your practice of teaching. Good reflection questions can help you evaluate everything from teaching biases, teaching processes, classroom culture and designing goals and objectives.

Lastly, an educator can benefit by using reflection in their practice because it can build your confidence in any learning environment. Hint, you are constantly assessing, shifting, and trying out new ideas by building your practice with these five simple steps:

  1. Teach/Facilitate.
  2. Self-assess the effect your teaching has had on learning.
  3. Consider new ways of teaching which can improve the quality of learning.
  4. Try these ideas in practice.
  5. Repeat the process.

Reflection For Students

Reflective educators help students understand that the students will now look back rather than move forward. They will take a break from what they have been doing (pause), step away from their work, and ask themselves, “What have I (or we) learned from doing this activity?” (Costa and Kallick, 2008). This also helps the student create context for why they are learning it. If a student doesn’t know why the topic is important to their learning, and you can’t explain it to them, it probably isn’t relevant any way. We need to teach students strategies to derive rich meaning from their experiences. We want them to think about their own thinking. Reflection involves linking a current experience to previous learnings (a process called scaffolding). Reflection also involves drawing forth cognitive and emotional information from several sources: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile.

Discussions

Having students sit in groups and have active and reflective discussions about learning can be a wonderful way to engage them, rather than only using a pencil and paper or writing on a device. You can have students discuss, and then write it out, in that order, which makes it easier for students to come up with ideas and connect the learning to the question. This requires from the student: problem solving, creating mental maps, exploration, and sharing ideas. Reflection is also enhanced when we ponder our learning with others. Students can draw out ideas from each other. This process is much like any college study group or a real-world job. Great practice!

Interviews

A playful and interactive way to engage students by having them interview each other or adults, depending on the project.

Questioning

Well-designed questions—supported by a classroom/program atmosphere grounded in trust—will invite students to reveal their insights, understandings, and applications of their learnings.

Modeling Reflection

Share your own experience and why/how reflection has supported you personally or professionally. Sharing your own experiences creates social equity in the classroom/program. This can be a wonderful tool for helping students feel more at ease and comfortable with you in the classroom/program.

Developmental Issues

When using reflection questions, you will also be able to notice how students are digesting the information and examine if they have developmental issues or a learning disability. When you learn this about a student you can begin to approach their learning from this deeper understanding.

And, just as in the same way we use reflection processes in academic learning, we need to apply the same creative questions to any social and emotional learning (SEL) activity or lesson. We are big on having students being able to articulate how and why the FEEL something, how and why they have FEELINGS and how and why they RESPOND they way they do.  If you have been in our trainings you have heard us say “If you can name it, you can claim it!”. We didn’t create that saying but we use all the time and know it to be true (even for adults, this holds true as well). When we are in understanding and able to process how we feel, we can then begin to choose how we will respond. This is especially true for anyone coming from a traumatic background.

SEL is powerful and necessary,  ensuring that students have a moment to reflect, processes and feel what they feel is vital to their development as creative, contributing and communicative humans.

For breakfast, I had coffee, stevia, cream, and one teaspoon of coconut oil.

Author: @juliagabor

This post originally appeared on the kid-git blog on July 7, 2021.

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In 2014, Julia was awarded the Women Making a Difference by U.S. Senator of California Lou Correa for her contributions in youth programming in Orange County, CA. In, 2013 Julia received the OSTI award from BOOST for her contribution to out-of-school time individuals by providing innovative approaches to support students, families and communities. Julia currently develops tailored training's and facilitates workshops for educators, non-profit organizations, mentor professionals and students. She works with you to create strategies for educational programs to enhance student success and a productive future. She also will establish effective practices for staff communication and leadership. As the Director of Education at WRiTE BRAiN WOLRD Julia is built, expanded and introduced the WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS curriculum into education communities across the country. WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS inspires creativity while applying project- based literacy and builds 21st Century skills. In only two and a half years WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS is being implemented in 41 states with 45,000 student becoming published authors of their own children’s book. While at the Tiger Woods Foundation (TWF), Julia launched a college internship program for sports management, hospitality, event planning and marketing majors from universities across the country. Julia develops specialized programs ranging from activity based curriculum in a variety of different educational areas to creating a collegiate mentor program. Starting in 2006, Julia managed a national character education program called- Tiger's Action Plan, a free youth development curriculum that focuses on leadership, goal setting, service learning and career exploration. Prior to joining TWF, Julia was a Coordinator for the After School All - Stars in Los Angeles, where she taught a range of middle school enrichment classes- from personal leadership to sports, to performance and visual art classes. Julia has been teaching/leading groups since she was a teenager working alongside her mother, who is an acting teacher and coach in the USA and Europe. Julia has served as a trainer/facilitator in disguised learning and cultural diversity throughout California. In 2009, Julia received the Honored Educator Award from California State Fullerton University for dedication to education in Orange County, CA. Miss Gabor is a graduate of the State University of New York, Fredonia receiving her bachelor's degree in the Fine Arts. She received her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Antioch University in 2012.

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