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How deep is your commitment to reflective practice?
Do you maintain a reflective journal? Do you blog? Do you capture and archive your reflections in a different space?
Do you consistently reserve a bit of time for your own reflective work? Do you help the learners you serve do the same?
I began creating dedicated time and space for reflection toward the end of my classroom teaching career, and the practice has followed me through my work at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio. I’ve found that it can take very little time and yet, the return on our investment has always been significant.
Observations about reflection
- Reflection makes all of us self-aware. It challenges us to think deeply about how we learn and why and why not.
- Reflection deepens ownership. When we reflect, we become sensitive to the personal connection that exists between ourselves, our learning, and our work. The more we consider these connections, the deeper they seem to become. Reflection makes things matter more.
- Reflection helps us get comfortable with uncomfortable. It also helps us fail forward. It’s through reflection that we’ve discovered our greatest power as a writing community: our collective expertise and our willingness to encourage and celebrate risk-taking.
- Reflection helps us know ourselves better. It helps us sharpen our vision, so we can align our actions to it. Reflection also helps us notice when we’re getting off track.
- Perhaps most importantly, reflection helps us advocate for ourselves and support others. Taking the time to reflect enables us to identify what we want, what we need, and what we must do to help ourselves. It also helps us realize how our gifts and strengths might be used in service to others.
I find that often, we struggle to find time to support reflective practice. Deadlines drive instruction far too much than they should, forcing learners and teachers to value perfection, products, and grades more than the development of softer and perhaps, more significant skills. Devoting a few moments at the end of class can make a real difference though, particularly when you pitch a few powerful prompts at learners. These are the ten questions that elicit the most powerful responses from the students I work with.
Ten Reflective Questions to Ask at the End of Class
1. Reflect on your thinking, learning, and work today. What were you most proud of?
2. Where did you encounter struggle today, and what did you do to deal with it?
3. What about your thinking, learning, or work today brought you the most satisfaction? Why?
4. What is frustrating you? How do you plan to deal with that frustration?
5. What lessons were learned from failure today?
6. Where did you meet success, and who might benefit most from what you’ve learned along the way? How can you share this with them?
7. What are your next steps? Which of those steps will come easiest? Where will the terrain become rocky? What can you do now to navigate the road ahead with the most success?
8. What made you curious today?
9. How did I help you today? How did I hinder you? What can I do tomorrow to help you more?
10. How did you help the class today? How did you hinder the class today? What can you do tomorrow to help other learners more?
The learners I serve typically capture these reflections in a special section of their notebooks. These entries grow in number over the course of time, and eventually, they revisit them to prepare for conferences.
The influence that asking reflective questions has on the quality of our conferences is incredible. In fact, I hesitate to confer with kids unless they’ve had a chance to pursue purposeful reflection first.
Try it yourself. See how it makes a difference for your students. You can find a set of printable reflective prompts here.
About The Author
A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.
The culminating project is designed to allow students to fully explore an idea through several avenues. You will be asked to choose a career or field of study, and then to produce three different pieces of work that reflect or relate to your chosen topic. You will also be asked to keep a project log, which will track your progress. A final, reflective essay will be written on the entire experience and will form the basis for the Exit Interview. Each senior will also prepare a resume by following a simple format provided to him/her. This project is a requirement for graduation. Upon completion and evaluation of the project, you will receive 1 credit. All components of the project must be completed in order to receive credit; you cannot graduate unless you complete the project.
You will need to think carefully about your topic. Although I am certainly available to assist you with the various requirements of your project, it is, for the most part, to be completed on your own.
Here are the elements of the project:
1. Proposal: In this brief paper, you will outline your choice of topic, as well as some of the sources and ideas you will use in developing your project. A format will be provided for you to follow. The Senior Project Coordinator must approve your topic before you proceed.
2. Visual:You will design a visual that reflects your career/field of study. Be creative! This may be a poster, a collage, a video clip, a diorama, anything visual, supported by some basic research, which may be presented to your group.
3. Novel/Drama Cube: Choose a novel or play (classis or contemporary) that deals with your topic. Summarize the literary elements of the work on a story cube that you will present to your group.
4. Product: This is the most flexible component of the project. You must come up with a product that reflects your concern or interest in this topic. The product can be almost anything: a research paper, a scaled model, a power point, a one-act play, a choreographed dance, a case study. Pretty much anything that connects to your topic, reflects your interest and requires time and effort on your part is acceptable. Think creatively; make a pitch. It will be considered!
5. Project log: Keep track of hours (at least 25 required) and activities as you work on the project. Be sure to comment on your progress.
6. Resume: As part of a group activity, each student will prepare a personal resume and cover letter using Microsoft Word and following instructions provided.
7. Reflective Essay: Evaluate the process of completing this project. Refer to your project log for help in completing this assignment. You will receive guiding questions and the essay will be scored according to the PSSA rubric.
8. Exit Interview: You will come before an evaluation committee to talk about your project. This will be the final step in completing the project. Upon satisfactory completion of the exit interview, you will receive the 1 credit required for graduation. Graduation, of course, still depends on all of your course work!
The timelines and rubrics for each component will be discussed in your group meetings. The project design is structured, yet offers plenty of room to be creative. It is meant to be challenging, but should be something with which you can have some fun!
Please note that there are 6 elements with deadlines attached to your Senior Project. Because deadlines are a fact of life, and you must learn to work within them, each element deadline has been assigned a value of 20 points. If you miss a deadline, no matter by how much or how little, present in school that day or not, you will not receive your points! Therefore, if you missmore than 2 deadlines, you will not pass the Senior Project. In addition, all elements of the Senior Project must be completed, before you will be scheduled for an Exit Interview. Once the interviews are completed, this year’s Senior Project is considered complete.
**Note— students will complete their projects though the . They may, however, be required to attend the Exit Interviews.