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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Reflection is important

I would say that reflection is one of those things that we all see the benefits from, but we don't do enough. During the school year we are genuinely busy creating lessons, grading, and doing all the things we should be doing as educators. When the bell rings most of us are spent, emotionally and physically. I believe that's why I started writing this in the summer and not during the school year.

Veteran teachers are able to make adjustments on the fly, whatever didn't really work 1st period they change it for 2nd, and so forth. I think sometimes we mistake this for reflection. True reflection requires getting to the heart of the matter which usually isn't a quick fix. We may mistake reading a different selection or watching a different video, or altering the assignment as fixing the problem. That may or may not be the case. True reflection causes us to delve deep into why we planned the lesson the way we did. Did we include higher level thinking? Was the activity too easy or too difficult? Did the lesson really do what we thought it would? Is there a better way of doing it? Etc...You get the point. You can make a split second decision between periods and change things make them better for your next class. But getting to the heart of the matter is a different process that requires much more thought.

I believe that reflection is the key to start of anything new, especially the school year. It's important to contemplate where you have been, what did you accomplish--and likewise not accomplish, what worked and what didn't, what would you do differently, what would you like to add? These questions give you a framework to begin planning for the future. What better to know where you want to go, then by looking back at where you have been?

We need to spend more time reflecting and making it part of each day. I know that's easy to say in the summer, but now is a great time to start making it part of our everyday routine. If you can't do it now, how will you possibly do it when you have less time.

Here are a few ideas:
Time: Set aside a part of the day that works for you. Could be during your prep period, or after school, or maybe after you had time to decompress at home and instead of watching tv you spend 30 min reflecting.

Blog: This is a natural way to communicate your feelings. It doesn't matter if you have hundreds, thousands, or even one follower, the important thing is that you do it for you.

Collaborate: Talk to to trusted colleagues about what you are doing. They don't have teach your subject or even be teachers themselves. Sometimes just sounding off is enough for you to see what you need to do in the future. Other times you may get just what you need from someone else.

Feedback: Ask students what they learned, what they liked/disliked. They ALWAYS have an opinion. They may not care about why you do something, but they will care about what they are doing in your class.

Connect: Reading what others have to say is a very powerful tool. Whether its tweets or blogs you will find a world wide community out there. You may get a great idea or advice or even be able to give it. Get on twitter and figure out how to use it. Here are a few ideas on who to follow and here on twitter and using it as a personal learning network (PLN). I have found it to be an unbelievable resource. The possibilities are endless.

Be positive: Just cause things may not have gone the way you wanted is no reason to feel like the world will end. I have a saying that I live by, "I will never have two bad days in a row." I will fix whatever I need to, most of the time it's me, and make sure the next day is better. That only happens with a positive outlook. You are the ruler of your class, you have the ultimate decision what happens and how it happens. Remember attitudes aren't taught they're caught. If you have a good attitude it will flow to your students, the opposite is true as well.

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