InClass

Your students need to reflect on the past and the future; switch it up with these ways to incorporate reflection into the classroom. Research shows us over and over that reflection is a critical part of learning. And while “student reflection” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, are we all o

Oct 24, 2018

Your students need to reflect on the past and the future; switch it up with these ways to incorporate reflection into the classroom.


Research shows us over and over that reflection is a critical part of learning. And while “student reflection” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, are we all on the same page? Why is reflection all too often such an afterthought?

Weaving reflection into our teaching practices is essential for our kids — it helps them take ownership of their learning and be better equipped to apply knowledge in the future. Here are our four fail-proof tips for incorporating reflection in the classroom.

Explain the why. Students at all levels can and need to know why reflection is a valuable tool so that they value its worth. Help teach thorough thinking habits by presenting reflection as a characteristic of a strong member of a community who interacts purposefully with peers. Make sure they understand that their efforts in honing positive reflection skills will help them grow in all life areas.


Don’t get stuck in reverse. It’s easy to fall into thinking that reflection is all about examining the past, but that just doesn’t cut it. True reflection will have students looking backward, forward, inward, and outward. It’s our role to supply the tools for students to look in all directions to observe, assess, and make sense of causes and effects, relationships and emotions, achievements and shortcomings — to name a few. Don’t stifle students by only using reflection activities at the end of lessons or units, and don’t put too many boundaries on how students should direct their cognition. Students should know that while there are no “right” answers in reflection, it is absolutely the thought that counts.

Switch it up. Reflection activities can and should take on all shapes and sizes. To start with, be sure to guide what students are reflecting on — personal progress, behavior, the classroom environment, community awareness — the possibilities are endless. Get creative. Use exit slips, surveys, conferences, and journals. Get techy with blogs, online polls, and contemplation-geared web applications like VoiceThread and Easel.ly. Not sure where to start? Our friend and tech guru, Tony Vincent, has an incredible list of ideas that will surely get your gears turning. Be sure to provide an opportunity for multiple perspectives through authentic audience commentary, video recordings of performances, role-playing, and group portfolios. Avoid getting stuck in a rut by keeping things fresh.

Practice what you preach. Reflection benefits all members of the classroom — and it’s just as important that you do some of your own. Dig deep into your daily performance as well as your long-term professional growth. Take a step away to think about your actions, feelings, and goals and make sense of your educator pathway. Be honest with yourself when it comes to the tough questions that’ll help you get better. Eliminate what doesn’t work, focus on what does, and set achievement goals for yourself.

As next semester nears, let’s help our students articulate their thinking toward greater growth. Practice a classroom culture of reflection and you’ll watch students move forward from one activity to the next with self-awareness, deeper understanding, and enhanced problem-solving skills.

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