The most regularly asked question about my reflection stuff (and probably the vast majority of new ideas in education!) is ….
“How do you have time?”
One answer is that you probably do a ton of reflection already. Assessment for learning in all it’s different forms encourages students to think about where they are in their understanding. When you ask your kids “what stuck with you today?” or “what was your muddiest point?” NEWS ALERT: THAT IS REFLECTION.
It turns out the actual questions people want answers to are: “how do you have time to reflect on their emotions?” or “how do you have time to get the kids to record good quality reflections?”
Reflecting on emotions/mindset
This definitely doesn’t mean delving into their life problems… but getting your kids to confront how they feel about the subject (and how they want to feel!) can be incredibly powerful.
I don’t “create” extra time for this – but I replace some of my “review your knowledge” starters with “let’s check in with how you’re feeling about Chemistry”.
If we just look at how effective we are as teachers, can we make more of a difference if a kid tells us that they are “never going to understand all the maths in the unit” or “don’t understand how to calculate molar mass”? For me, that’s a no brainer. If that kid thinks they aren’t going to understand any of the calculations then I’ve got a much bigger problem on my hands than is suggested in the second answer. Keeping track of their emotions towards the subject is just as important (if not more important!) as tracking their knowledge and understanding.
For starters, I don’t do this nearly as much as you think that I do.
I only get my kids to record their reflections in their learning logs if the reflection is significant.
On average this is once every 6 weeks. For me, reflections on knowledge are significantly less interesting than reflections on emotions and mindset. For this reason I set up students learning log spaces to be a personal space where they can record their thoughts towards the subject. I wanted it to be a place where they could see how their attitude towards Chemistry had changed throughout the year, as well as a space for them to record memorable moments and the things they’re proud of. Here are some examples of the creative ways that I use for reflections. The result is a learning log that is an absolute mess but completely reflects the journey of that student and they love seeing how far they’ve come 🙂
A few more things
- I comment on my kids reflections to make sure they know I genuinely care about them. For me, this happens every other recorded reflection (around every 12 weeks). Not a massive time input, but a task nonetheless.
- I wouldn’t recommend that you set it as homework 😦 Unless you have magical reflection protocols mastered with your kids. I 100% do not. I normally set it as a starter with a flexible activity afterwards so the kids who finish early have something to do, but equally those who want to spend a little more time don’t miss out on key knowledge.
- Setting up a space for recording reflections and getting the kids to understand how to use the space will take time. But the time is all at the start (just like any other system you want to set up in your classroom…).
Our time is precious, but having seen the results, good quality reflection is something that I never want to lose from my classroom. A deep understanding of the way my students feel about Chemistry helps me to identify common reasons for negativity and create ways to tackle these head on. Chemistry is a tough subject for many and keeping my students positive and embracing challenge is a top priority.