Skip to main content

Endings & Beginnings Force Reflection, Higher Levels of Learning


      With the time of graduations and school-year endings upon us, we are often found in a state of reflection.  Whether it’s educators completing another exhausting and challenging year - or students moving on to new levels of education or new chapters in their lives – this time of year will often lead to us to see what we’ve done and we’re going to do.  This is reflection and this is real learning at a high level.

     Famous thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato and Confucius all communicated about the value of reflection in learning.  Early education researcher John Dewey wrote about the value of reflection in learning often and thought of reflection as the beginning of all problem solving, higher level thinking and more.  Bloom’s Taxonomy addresses reflection throughout and education writer and researcher Don Clark breaks down reflection as it applies to students, teachers, etc. (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html#revised).
     In lay terms, how does reflection relate to actual learning?  Ultimately, it requires us to review our learning experiences, as well as evaluate our learning goals.  Learning by nature is an individual experience that is a living, breathing thing.  Reflecting on how we have arrived where we are - and what we can do to arrive where we want to go - can only maximize this learning.
            Teachers and all professionals who are interested in continual improvement do this inherently.  Individuals and organizations are all constantly assessing their past successes and failures and seeing how they can learn from them going forward.  This effort for continual improvement requires continual reflection.
            Once students are practicing reflection, their overall critical thinking increases. They are analyzing and evaluating their own learning experiences and how they improve, set new goals and articulate their strengths/weaknesses.  This is real learning and at a high level.
            How does this apply to school?  Well, this is where a comprehensive exam falls short.  It only assesses specific content, not experiences, skills, thinking or more.  Only by moving to more performance-based assessments and more portfolio-based student project development, can students reflect about what they have learned and what they still want to learning.  The latter requires more personal investment and ownerships vs. the former.
            I am fortunate to work at a project-based school where all of our students are required to present a year-end portfolio of their work and professional persona called the Personal Brand Equity.  This portfolio presentation not only requires them to analyze and assess their learning and best work in their academic and elective courses, but also do the same for them as a growing and ever-improving individual.  It requires them to identify what they are known for professionally and passionately, as well as to where they are going (goal-setting).  See a sample of a 10th grade Personal Brand Equity presentation template: (http://www.slideshare.net/mattpowersenglish/minarets-high-pbe-sophomores-2014-template-matt-powers).
            All schoolwork needs to build in the reflective process.  Writing can never really improve unless the writer reflects right?  This can be applied to all school projects and assignments.  Students not only need to understand why they are doing something (relevance), but also what they learned and how can it be applied in the future (reflection).
            Whether a student is graduating high school to higher ed. or from higher ed. to career, reflection will be the powerful tool that allows their individual learning experience and success to exist, as well as expand.  Even as we move students from one grade level to the next, we should begin teaching them the power of reflection.  If we do, we will move one step closer to creating self-realized, self-guided learners in charge of their own learning experiences and destiny.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Five Ways To Make All Students Into Lead Learners (Teachers)

It has been established long ago that the highest form of learning is teaching. When one is put in the position to teach others, one learns the content and concepts at the highest applied level in order to successfully communicate it to others.
     This reality has led many educators long ago to turn as much of the instruction in their classroom over to students through student presentations, projects and more.
     That being said, too many students still never have this opportunity to become Lead Learners - where they learn at the highest level by having the responsibility of teaching others. Here are five ways all educators can expand the opportunity for all students to learn at the highest level by all becoming teachers:

STUDENTS AS PROFESSIONAL PRESENTERS      Again, students have been giving presentations in many cases for years in certain courses. I suppose even the early years of Show & Tell were intended to have every student present, or tell a story. Well, we need to ch…

8 Lessons From The FFA For All Of Education

I was never an Agriculture or FFA student. Indeed, I have never been an Ag or FFA teacher. I have never taken an Ag Science or Ag Elective class. Actually, aside from eating food produced by the Ag industry, I’ve never even done much of anything related to the work that the Ag Community does.
     However, as the former principal of Minarets High School, I got to witness and be a part of the great work that the FFA does, and has always done, that we can all learn from.
     In fact, it seems that much of what we are trying to do with 21st century education and skill development, the FFA has always done. When it comes to what industry and the economy seems to be demanding from our students, the FFA has seemingly incorporated all of it from day one.
     When I became the principal of Minarets High School (Minarets High School) in 2008, the school did not exist yet. We were tasked, among other things, with having a dynamic Ag Science & Natural Resources Pathway. With that in m…

If We're Banning Phones, We Won't Connect Our Students To The Future

For those of us that follow the news, especially education news, we don’t have to wait very long for an educator, or educators, to give us the excuse for a blog post. This week’s winner goes to the principal and staff at Korematsu Middle School in California’s East Bay Area.
     They were recently featured, and apparently heralded, by an article in Ed Source (http://bit.ly/EdSourceCellPhones) for their recent compliance and control upgrade that bans students from using their cell phones at lunch and during their free time.
     According to principal Matthew Burnham, they tried to let the 7th and 8th grade students use their cell phones last year during these times and it was, according to them, an abysmal failure. The school claims that due to the students being “glued” to their cell phones, no one was talking and interacting with one another. And after watching the movie “Screenagers” and drinking from that proverbial firehose of biased information, this school was trying to …