The “R Word” – Getting students engaged in reflection

There’s a real focus on reflection in many schools around the world and rightly so – it been shown to improve wellbeing and self awareness (Hoyer and Klein, 2000) and their ability to articulate issues.

16805019500_7508f67401_zHowever, if your students are anything like mine the mere suggestion of “reflection” can be enough to set off a Mexican wave of sighing. About a year ago I began to focus on reflection in my teaching to try to make students realise how exciting and rewarding seeing their progress can be. 

The biggest worry I had when I started was how the hell I was going to get my students on board. I generally like my classroom to be a fun place, and my previous experience showed me that the students detested reflecting. My first solution to this problem was reflection deception; If I don’t say the R-word then they’ll never know they’re reflecting. Staggeringly it actually made a huge difference. 

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It worked because it turned out that my students didn’t hate reflection at all, they just hated filling in the same template reflection questions after every unit test that no one ever looked at. As soon as we started to vary the timings of reflections and make the process more creative and interactive my students started to really enjoy it. 

Interviewing my students at the end of last year they described reflection generally as “boring” and “repetitive” but when questioned about the reflection activities that we’d been trialling they said

“I like that we do a variety of activities and that it’s not just questions”

“Talking to other people helps me to realise that I’m not the only one finding it difficult”

“I like being able to see how far I’ve come from the start of the year”. 

I feel like I’ve learned so much about reflection that to put it all into one blog post would be horribly dull and tedious. These are the main things that I’ve learned about in the past year and plan to share in this space.

How to decide when to reflect

Creative reflection 

Time effective reflection

Who are reflections for?

The importance of variety

Reflections as a conversation starter 


How does reflection work in your school?

What issues have you had with reflection?

What successes have you had with reflection?

2 thoughts on “The “R Word” – Getting students engaged in reflection

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