Student Reflection: How to Ensure It’s Done, Done Well, and Done With Grit

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Student Reflection - How to ensure it's done, done well, and done with grit
  • Research shows daily student reflection and goal setting has positive effects on students.
  • The missing piece of implementing reflection and goal setting in many classrooms is student ownership.
  • Allowing students to choose the medium used, providing open-ended questions, sharing (some) of that reflection with stakeholders, embedding it into routine to make it a habit, reflection checks, and reflection on the reflection process are all ways in which you can provide that student ownership and purpose needed fro reflection.

In college, I remember many of my professors advocating for daily student reflection and goal setting.

They shared article after article, research paper after research paper, on the effects daily student reflection can have on college graduation rate and success as an adult in seeming all career fields.

Nevertheless, knowing all of this statistical evidence pointing me toward this practice, I could never find the right way to implement it in the classroom.

Challenge your students to share their reflection and goal setting tools with stakeholders in their success. Click To Tweet

The missing piece that took me years to figure out – Student Ownership! When you provide students ownership and purpose through the reflection process, the results are exhilarating!

HOW : Provide students the ownership & purpose they need for reflection using these quick tips…

1. Choice in Medium:

Allow students to choose the medium in which they reflect. You will find some students are very comfortable with a simple paper/pencil or typing method of reflection. Therefore, a guided paper tool or google doc is easy to follow. Whereas other learners may benefit best from a visual tool such as drawing or painting. Even more common, students may feel most successful through a video or oral medium allowing them the flexibility to talk through their thoughts out loud.

A common challenge to consider is managing all these needs. I’d suggest utilizing a student portfolio program, such as SeeSaw. This allows each piece to be housed in the same location! Easy for them – Easy for you!

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2. Open Ended Sentence Starters:

Reflection can be challenging for students. Remember, these are the same human beings that respond “nothing” to the question “What did you learn at school today?” Therefore, providing students sentence starters to begin their thinking can make a world of a difference! Additionally, specific questions you expect the students to answer each time you reflect can help get them thinking!

What did you work on today?
Did you fully understand what you learned today?
What’s next for you?
How do you intend to reach this goal?
Who needs to help you get there?

3. Share with Stakeholders:

Some reflections are meant to be private, while others have great value in sharing! Challenge your students to share their reflection and goal setting tools with stakeholders in their success. This may include other peers or family members. Allow these important people be a part of their growth journey.

If appropriate, you could also ask students to share their thinking with others on a school social media outlet and ask others for their feedback!

4. Make it a Habit:

Even though something always seems to come up, teachers know better then anyone, consistency is key! Therefore, the more of a habit you can make goal setting for your students, the more success you will have in them actually completing it. Once a quarter or twice a year is not enough! Sometimes, even once a week is a challenge. Finding 3-5 min every day for students to take a moment for themselves can magnify their efficiency later!

5. Check in on their Success:

Just like anything else, teachers must check in on students progression. This does not mean a daily check – sucking hours away from facilitating instruction to “reflection checks.” However, a weekly check can ensure a student understands the importance of the process and answers any underlying questions the student may have. Again, make it a habit. If it has value, committing a few moments to it a week is worth it!

6. Reflect on the Process & its Purpose:

One of the best ways I have been able to have students buy into a new procedure or system is by taking their ideas into account. Therefore, daily reflection and goal setting is no different! Take time every so often to reflect on the classroom procedure. Listen to their concerns and brainstorm solutions together. Do not eliminate the practice just because it’s challenging. Rather, create supports for your students to feel heard and cater to their needs.

Student reflection and goal setting can be a truly powerful practice to put in place in your classroom. Use these 6 tips to get your class going, or improve your current system. There are many other tips and tricks to help assist this valuable process. Share yours with me on twitter or instagram!

About Rae Hughart

Rae Hughart is a Middle Level Math and Writing Educator in Illinois and the Director of Training and Development for Progressive Mastery Learning, LLC. In 2017, Rae was honored with the Illinois State University Outstanding Young Alumni Award – inducting her into the University Hall of Fame.

Top image photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash