Monday, September 30, 2013

Ask & You Shall Receive (on Self-Reflection)

Once of the best parts of my PLN on twitter is the opportunity it gives me to virtually collaborate with, and be inspired by, other really smart teachers. Last week it was this post from Pernille Ripp, which also inspired this post from Katherine Sokolowski...both of which inspired me and what I had my students do in class today.

As a teacher, one of the things I do most often is reflect on my practice and determine what went well, what didn't, what could be changed, what my students need, how I acted/reacted, and how to make things better for the next time. Being a reflective practitioner is essential to continuing to improve myself as an educator and to be the best teacher I can be for my students. And if self-reflection is such an important skill for adults in the workplace, it's a skill I should be helping to develop in my students as well. I loved the idea of a monthly self-reflection for students to complete as a wrap-up to the previous month, and a fresh start to the new month. I saw it as a way of not only reflecting, but also celebrating the accomplishments and setting goals for achievement in the month ahead. I took some ideas from Pernille's reflection sheet, and added in a few ideas inspired by things Katherine mentioned in her post, and before school started this morning, I crafted a Monthly Reflection Sheet for my students to use for self-reflection.

I included a line for students to share how many books were read in the previous month and which was their favorite, a line for how many they'd like to read in the next month, along with a few other things. But the most important one, and the one that was my reason for really wanting to do this, was this one:
I gained insight into my students a way I didn't expect and in a way that will be valuable to not only my teaching them, but also in cultivating relationships with them. Some comments made me smile, some made me laugh, some made me groan, some made me tear up, some made me cheer, some forced me to look a little more carefully at myself and how I've been approaching certain things this year...and really, isn't that what this was all about? Self-reflection not only for my students, but for myself as well. The more feedback I can get from my students, the better I can make my teaching, and sometimes it takes seeing it written down to really help me process it and figure out how to make things better. I look forward to continuing to use this self-reflection each month as we move through the school year as I know it's going to help me make things better and help my students reflect on themselves as well.

On a sidenote: So many students mentioned, in one part or another of their self-reflections, that they wished I would give more reading time in class. On the one hand, I love that so many are excited about reading and want more time to do it (and make no mistake, they already get quite a bit of class time to read!), but on the other hand, it worries me that they say that as it's also a way to avoid writing. A thought I will be continuing to reflect upon...

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