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Now For Something A Little Different...

I saw this on Twitter on Sunday evening. It was on the EdTechist feed and it struck me as something different that I thought I would like to try in my classes…We bring all types of educational goodness here at the Edtechist!

But as many of these are reflective and personal tasks, I would think having a dedicated location for them to be stored by the pupils would make a lot of sense: a folder on Google Drive, or as a Notebook on OneNote, would allow pupils to reflect on how they have progressed throughout the year. So there’s the education technology box ticked…now let’s continue!

The benefits of reflective learning are huge. Here’s a post on the benefits of having a period of reflection on teaching and learning. Something I might revisit and research myself.

I think the main consideration of this is consistent repetition, which might not be easy depending on your class setting. In post-primary, seeing a different class at the each of day would not work, so adding this to the end of each class might take time, planning and intentional timing. This also requires you to see the importance of how students will benefit from it. For non-ICT classes, it may also include needing a notebook specifically for this task. At this point, does the pupil need one notebook per subject or could this be set up as a whole-school approach to have one notebook, with a reflective note taken at the end of each class?

However this would look, there needs to be thought and planning for this to work effectively.

1. Reflect. Review. To Do.

I could see most of what the image says in this section being straightforward.

Reflection on the lesson, what was learned, what has been achieved and understood is a great way to capture the idea that learning has taken place – especially for the student. So often we think of how our lesson looks to us – introduction, Q&A, activity, plenary. Do we think about how the learner interacts with our material? Have we ever asked them?

This reflective practice can also work very well for teachers. Some quick notes on what went well in a lesson, what you might have learned that day (every day should be a school day if you do it right).

The part I am unsure about is the to do list part. This works really easily for teachers. My to do list is usually quite extensive. But what about our pupils? Do we include a homework deadline? Or a note to remind them about needing equipment for another day? The reason I bring these up, is that if the notebook is allowed to expand in this way, it could easily become a de facto homework book. And this isn’t the point of the reflection.

2. Read

(Ewan McGregor voice from Trainspotting is optional.)

Read. Just read. Read for the simple joy of reading. Read because you are hooked on a book and need to know how it ends. Read because you are being challenged by what you read. Read. Read. Read.

Read on Kindle. Read a graphic novel. Read a newspaper.

Read with a physical object in your hand. Read with a physical device in your hand.

Read to escape. Read to discover. Read to learn. Read to think. Read to not think.

Read to discover yourself. Read to develop your own voice.

Read to love.

Read to cry.

Read to understand why.

Read to focus.

Read to concentrate.

Read to meditate.

Read to improve your emotional, mental and spiritual health.

Read to remember. Read to not forget. Read to honour.

Read to motivate.

Read to expand your knowledge. Read to enhance your creativity.

Read to reduce stress.

Read to increase happiness.

Read to sleep better.

Read to improve your vocabulary, your command of language, and your communication skills.

Read to become a better thinker.

Read to improve your brain function.

Read to become more humble.

Read to be more empathetic.

Read to be a better person

Read to be more.

Reading is so much more than a quiet way to end the day. The gains that can come from reading will permeate into every aspect of a student’s education, confidence and achievement. It can be solo reading or whole-class reading, but it should be enjoyed for what it is – a chance to enjoy a world of imagination.

3. Appreciation, Apology, Aha

This one might need better knowledge of your class before attempting it with them – some might not feel comfortable sharing. This – to me – sounds a bit like circle time and so could work as students may be more familiar with it. The public nature of reflection here might be kept back by some of the quieter and introspective members of the class. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but something to consider if choosing one of these for a particular class.

Parts of this could be quite useful in sorting out a classroom issue by giving everyone time to speak about how they are dealing with what has happened, but also give a forum for another person’s point of view to be expressed and help resolve the issue.

This point feeds into other points from the tweet. The appreciate can fit with point 1 and the moment of Aha fits with point 5. I suppose there is not a firm, fast and correct way of doing this. The whole point is to help pupils to reflect upon their learning, the events of that day or simply to finish the day in a calm way.

All of these can have a benefit to our pupils and as with EdTech, we simply won’t know what works until we try it and reflect upon the outcomes, be they positive or negative.

4. Brain Dump

Writing in a stream of consciousness has always interested me – your thoughts in a unstructured but unrestricted and honest format. The power for learning through reflection can be powerful, but in a classroom setting there must be a level of trust and privacy that what is written will remain private and confidential which is important for a number of different students in the classroom – especially in the post-primary classroom.

If the person is honest with themselves, this type of reflection can help them with future learning. The Greeks have a saying that was featured in the original Matrix film (1999):

Temet Nosce.

Know thyself.

Reading up on this phrase, how it appeared in The Matrix and what it means in the philosophical sense, it is becoming clear to me that we don’t really know ourselves. Not really. Understanding the idea of complete connection to something or someone can be beyond us in many ways. So if I say that as a 40 year old married man, with two children, then how do our pupils know themselves? Learning through reflection only happens when we allow ourselves the time to stop (disconnecting from social media), be calm and reflect upon what has transpired that day.

The simple answer is they don’t (which is no fault of theirs, they are in school for a reason remember). But it is our job as teachers to help them learn. To continue the Matrix connection, this time Morpheus sums up our job here:

5. A Moment of Clarity

These can be much more important than what we realise. In my earlier career as a freelance website designer, I had a project that I was working on and got stuck at a point in the payment process. I simply couldn’t get past this point and no matter what I looked up as a solution, it didn’t work. Eventually I gave up and stormed off, telling my wife I was going for a quick cycle to clear my head. After being out on the road for less than 10 minutes, having time away from the computer allowed for genuine reflection on the problem and what I had tried. Suddenly an answer came to me and I could see in my head how all the different stages lined up and connected-solving the problem. I was 99% certain I had my solution, so I relaxed and enjoyed my spin. When I returned to my computer the process was solved within 30 minutes.

The power of the moment of clarity here was important for me in my work process, but can be just as important for a pupil in their classroom. It could be a similar learning problem or it could be taking a moment to think through an issue with a member of the class. Having that moment to breathe calmly, assess the situation and think rationally should not be overlooked. We are to teach our pupils emotional intelligence as well as the other forms that may get more attention.

This image was originally found on Twitter, tweeted by @TCEA, but originally cited from: The Secret Sauce: Essential Ingredients for Exceptional Teaching, by 4 O’clock Faculty, the book is available on Amazon here. If you decide to buy the book, I get nothing. Not even a coffee. Just so you know.

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