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April 23, 2015

Learning From Reflecting

By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Reflecting is a part of growing. I try to take the time to reflect quite often. I love looking back at what went well for me as a teacher, within a lesson, after a presentation, etc. I also look at what I’d like to see go better next time. I jot down little notes and reminders in my phone and work toward my new expectations. 

    I wanted to do something like this with my students. I wanted to hear their voices. I wanted to gather feedback from them. My question to myself was, “How do I go about doing this?” 

     

     

    Beginning of the Year

    I start every year with a "Classroom Favorites" student survey. This is a questionnaire that is more of a get-to-know-you for my students and me. In the past I handed it out as a paper form that students would fill out and then return to me. I would look it over privately. Recently, however, I turned the form into a Google sheet where the questions are listed at the top. I invite the class to the one shared document. As students answer the questions, they can see each other’s responses.

    I enjoy this much more because it is a living document that students can change as the year progresses. It also allows them to find similarities and differences between themselves and their peers.

    Another way I use this shared document is to project it on a whiteboard for the class to look at together. I then ask students to find partners by looking at the screen. For example, I might say, “Find someone who likes the same genre of reading as you do.” It is another way that I can partner up students.

     

    In regards to growth and reflection, I came up with a reflection "report card." The idea was for students to complete the form at the end of a reporting period. I asked students questions about how they felt they performed up to that point. Students could respond with where they shined and where they wanted to improve. There was also a section for students to give input on their overall behavior. Students could respond with an:

    • E for exceeding expectations

    • M for meeting expectations

    • I for improvement needed

    *Teacher note: During a classroom discussion, we went over what each score might be depending on a student's behavior. We also talked about the differences between:

    • E: something you are doing consistently

    • M: something you do often and need few reminders about

    • I: something you need reminders about quite often

    I wanted to change the language of this portion to be more “growth mindset” driven. It is now written as:

    • S: secure

    • MP: making progress

    • NY: not yet

    The final portion of this form is a reflection piece about their learning, and how I was doing as their teacher. I end the form with “Something I want Mrs. Cabral to know,” and "Wishes for Mrs. Cabral.” This gives students the opportunity to share ANYTHING they want me to know. I preface this section with “Write ANYTHING. It does not have to be school related, it just has to be about you. What is something you want to tell me, but never find time to, or are scared to?” This also gives students the opportunity to share about something they enjoyed that they’d like to bring back to our room, or something they’d like me to do that I don’t normally do.

    I love the feedback and learning those unspoken truths about my students. If anything, it brings us closer together.

    I digitalized the form, and created a spreadsheet that I can quickly access and use to compare my reflections of my students and their reflection of themselves.

    Where did I go next with this reflection process? I asked students to choose which way they would like to reflect. Some wanted the paper format that they could print and write on. Others wanted the digital version, and some chose to reflect via video recording.

    Every form of reflection was valid for me. Every form offered a peek into the world of my students. Sometimes what they want to say never really gets heard. This reflection opened my eyes to see how “Sally” felt about her learning. Was she feeling successful? If not, what could I do to make school that place of success for her? My goal in educating students is not only to educate their minds, but also to listen to their words and create a learning environment where they can grow. Growth in learning comes when we acknowledge areas of weakness and find ways to work on them.

    What ways do you use student reflection in your classroom? Please share below.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

    Reflecting is a part of growing. I try to take the time to reflect quite often. I love looking back at what went well for me as a teacher, within a lesson, after a presentation, etc. I also look at what I’d like to see go better next time. I jot down little notes and reminders in my phone and work toward my new expectations. 

    I wanted to do something like this with my students. I wanted to hear their voices. I wanted to gather feedback from them. My question to myself was, “How do I go about doing this?” 

     

     

    Beginning of the Year

    I start every year with a "Classroom Favorites" student survey. This is a questionnaire that is more of a get-to-know-you for my students and me. In the past I handed it out as a paper form that students would fill out and then return to me. I would look it over privately. Recently, however, I turned the form into a Google sheet where the questions are listed at the top. I invite the class to the one shared document. As students answer the questions, they can see each other’s responses.

    I enjoy this much more because it is a living document that students can change as the year progresses. It also allows them to find similarities and differences between themselves and their peers.

    Another way I use this shared document is to project it on a whiteboard for the class to look at together. I then ask students to find partners by looking at the screen. For example, I might say, “Find someone who likes the same genre of reading as you do.” It is another way that I can partner up students.

     

    In regards to growth and reflection, I came up with a reflection "report card." The idea was for students to complete the form at the end of a reporting period. I asked students questions about how they felt they performed up to that point. Students could respond with where they shined and where they wanted to improve. There was also a section for students to give input on their overall behavior. Students could respond with an:

    • E for exceeding expectations

    • M for meeting expectations

    • I for improvement needed

    *Teacher note: During a classroom discussion, we went over what each score might be depending on a student's behavior. We also talked about the differences between:

    • E: something you are doing consistently

    • M: something you do often and need few reminders about

    • I: something you need reminders about quite often

    I wanted to change the language of this portion to be more “growth mindset” driven. It is now written as:

    • S: secure

    • MP: making progress

    • NY: not yet

    The final portion of this form is a reflection piece about their learning, and how I was doing as their teacher. I end the form with “Something I want Mrs. Cabral to know,” and "Wishes for Mrs. Cabral.” This gives students the opportunity to share ANYTHING they want me to know. I preface this section with “Write ANYTHING. It does not have to be school related, it just has to be about you. What is something you want to tell me, but never find time to, or are scared to?” This also gives students the opportunity to share about something they enjoyed that they’d like to bring back to our room, or something they’d like me to do that I don’t normally do.

    I love the feedback and learning those unspoken truths about my students. If anything, it brings us closer together.

    I digitalized the form, and created a spreadsheet that I can quickly access and use to compare my reflections of my students and their reflection of themselves.

    Where did I go next with this reflection process? I asked students to choose which way they would like to reflect. Some wanted the paper format that they could print and write on. Others wanted the digital version, and some chose to reflect via video recording.

    Every form of reflection was valid for me. Every form offered a peek into the world of my students. Sometimes what they want to say never really gets heard. This reflection opened my eyes to see how “Sally” felt about her learning. Was she feeling successful? If not, what could I do to make school that place of success for her? My goal in educating students is not only to educate their minds, but also to listen to their words and create a learning environment where they can grow. Growth in learning comes when we acknowledge areas of weakness and find ways to work on them.

    What ways do you use student reflection in your classroom? Please share below.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

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