Reflection Reprised

This post focuses on one important idea central to learning – reflection. I have always believed strongly in the power of reflection as a pedagogical tool and apply this practice to my own life as well. My  blog is about reflection and, in fact, this is the second Notable Notes focused on reflection. However, I was inspired to post again about reflection by this great piece from Edutopia by Glenn Whitman “4’33” (Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds): What Our Brains Need” about the importance and power of reflection. Perhaps the most compelling point he made is this: “Our brain never stops working, even in our sleep. But it needs time to catch up, to think and ponder. But hardly do we, teachers, students or life, give it such “catch up” time.”

Joshua Block, in another Edutopia blog post, offers some great examples of reflection as a closing activity in his wonderfully named “Let It Marinate: The Importance of Reflection and Closing.” I love to marinate when I cook and I love to marinate when I teach and I love to marinate when I learn. Marination is a beautiful thing, don’t you think? Block notes: “Often it is not until some time later, when the ideas have marinated, that I realize what matters most to me and how to say it. I find that the flow of learning for many of my students matches my personal need for intellectual reflection.”

It is important for educators to also practice reflection. I blog to reflect, but you can reflect in a private journal. It does not matter whether or not others have access to your reflections – what matters it that you reflect. The BBC offers these tips for helping you become a more reflective teacher in “Reflective teaching: Exploring our own classroom practice.”

I think this is an important point that administrators often overlook when trying to cram more into every day – more instruction, more test prep, more test practice. Perhaps what we simply need is more reflection. Think about the schools who have tried building meditation into their day and found tremendous rewards. Couldn’t we all benefit from more reflection and more meditation? Even if we can’t build our entire school around reflection and meditation, we do have the power to build reflection into our days and into our classrooms.

I am a reflective practitioner and learner and I strive to help my students become reflective practitioners and learners as well following Donald Schon’s “Reflective Practitioner” approach. Schon argues for professionals to not only practice reflection-in-action but also to receive real-time encouragement and coaching for this reflection in order to become a “Reflective Practitioner.”

Are you a reflective practitioner? Do you want your students to be reflective practitioners? How do you promote reflection in your classroom?

This post originally appeared as a weekly Notable Notes offering on my Metawriting blog at: