What do we mean by reflection?

Reflection is:

self-awareness – including seeking out positive criticism, reflecting on areas of perceived limitation

and

self-evaluation – including the keeping of learning journals and portfolios, reflecting at different stages in the learning process.

Reflection is really the thinking that comes after the activity or project. It involves asking yourself, “What worked well, and what should I do differently next time?” In order to do this well, we need to keep a record of our learning. Journals, diaries and portfolios are useful to promote reflection.

What are the benefits of reflection?

Plato said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” He might have said it because reflection enables you to use your past experience to inform your future action. Reflection is thinking about the ways in which new learning fits into what we already know. It allows us to make connections between new learning and previous experiences. Reflection helps students not only to remember but also to actively participate in the learning experience. Identifying what went well and what went less well in a piece of work, or throughout a period of study, is the first step to change and improvement. So, reflection lets us see what needs to change and how to change it. It is necessary to prevent us from running round in useless circles like a hamster on a wheel.

How can I teach reflection skills?

First of all, one needs to be curious, patient and honest when they want to do proper reflection. And then, like in most cases, you learn reflection the best by doing it. Set aside some teaching time for your students to reflect about their learning. You can do this either after having taught new items or at the end of the lesson. Some teachers prefer class leaving stickies where students briefly write their reflections on a sticky note on some of the following questions (they can even pin them on a learning board):

  • What did you think about the topic before this lesson? What do you think now?
  • Which activity did you enjoy most/least? Why?
  • What new things did you learn this lesson?
  • What would you like to improve next time?
  • How was this assignment challenging?
  • What skills did you develop?
  • If you could do this task again, how may you change it? Why?
  • etc.

Next time I will provide some online resources that can help you get more into detail with the skill of reflection.