Thursday, February 11, 2010

Looking in the Mirror: The Power of Self-Reflection

Last November I wrote a post about building self efficacy through daily self-reflection. I was on a mission to build independence and teach kids how to reflect on their behavior and learning at school.  Yesterday, as my husband and I enjoyed a nice conversation over dinner ( yes, yet again a discussion that came back to kids and school!) we began discussing how these daily self-evaluations are contributing to kids' growth. It struck me that the value of this practice is even greater than I intended.
Here are a few of the "aha's" and reasons why I will continue to have kids think about their respect, responsibility and safety at school and communicate their reflections to their parents each day.
  • One of the huge benefits of this practice is that each child is reflecting on his day and not looking to the teacher to "report" if he has had a "good" day or "bad" day. I have heard teachers tell parents that "Johnny" had a "bad" day. When I train kids to use this form, we don't use the words "good" and "bad". We talk about how some of the choices they made might have been wise choices or "not the best" choices where they "didn't think" before acting. We talk a lot about how sometimes a decision to act seems like a good choice but on further reflection, it's not such a great idea. Each day is a fresh start, where we know more about ourselves than the day before!
  •  As my students fill out their forms, I welcome them to solicit my input only after they have already thought about how they will rate themselves. Often kids are tougher on themselves than I would be, but their perceptions give me lots of information. It's a great opportunity to point out positive choices they may have overlooked. Sometimes they get stuck on one challenging moment and generalize it to the entire day. 
  • The report is a daily communication with parents and usually bears good news! I have seen the tendency for some teachers to only send reports home that focus on when a child has had difficulties that day.
  • The kids can fill out the form and know what the icons mean even if they can't yet read the words. The training period was probably about a week and after that, the kids were able to fill them out on their own.
  • The evaluation generates a conversation between the teacher and the student about how "we" can work together to have success in the classroom. When a child has had some tough times focusing and getting work done, and the evidence is in the unfinished pile of work, we can brainstorm together with the parents about possible strategies to help him/her solve the problem. When kids begin to realize that they need fewer distractions, or that when they are tired they don't work as well, they can begin to take responsibility in the classroom and ask the teacher for a "quiet area" to work in or an earlier bedtime from parents. Believe it or not, I have had kids go home and tell their parents that they need more sleep!  
          These are just a few of the reasons why I will continue to have my kids reflect. Most importantly, so far, is that happy, engaged and independent learners come to school excited and "ready for a challenge" each day.


Deena said...

This is sooo cute and I'm glad to hear you're having such success with it! I am also impressed to see it working with children at such a young age. I wonder how it would fair with older kids (4th and 5th grade)? Obviously they understand how to use it, but I have some students who I believe don't perceive their behavior and "not so good" choices in the way we adults do. Have you heard of anyone using this form of self-reflection with higher elementary grades?

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

I am glad that you asked the question about older students. I was just thinking about how it could be modified to use with older students. I think it might generate some powerful conversation about the factors that impact their success in focusing and getting work done. Maybe you could use it and also add a question about what strategies they tried that day to be successful in meeting a goal. I will think more about it! I don't know of anyone at my school or any school using it in older grades but I like the idea of kids reflecting and evaluating how they learn. 4th and 5th graders are capable of learning how they learn and this process can be critically important to their future school success! Thanks for your comment.

Unknown said...

Where is the link to access "how well did I do today" self reflection? I would love a copy for my class.
Thank you!