It’s been said that Autumn is a season for reflection. After all, the weather gets colder, the days grow shorter, and the energy of summer begins to fade into something more subdued. It’s the perfect environment to take a breath, step back, and consider where you are. This is doubly true for students and educators. By now, both groups have become accustomed to their new class and the rhythm of the school year. What better time to consider what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what should change in the months ahead?

Reflection plays a vital role in the learning process. It can provide clarity, assist in stress reduction and problem solving, while also contributing to overall personal growth. It’s no wonder that cultivating reflection in the classroom can lead to positive growth – both in students and in teachers. Like every discipline though, reflection requires regular practice if it’s going to be effective. Here are just a few strategies that teachers can use to foster a mindset of reflection – both in their students and in themselves!

  • O.O.P. It Up: The W.O.O.P. acronym can help your students work toward their goals in a productive way – simply follow the letters. Wish: Identify a wish or goal you want to achieve, Outcome: Identify a positive outcome of achieving this goal, Obstacle: Identify one obstacle that could potentially stand in the way of reaching your goal, Plan: Make a plan for how you can overcome this obstacle. By having students reflect on all four, you help them learn how to be intentional in their pursuit of their goals.
  • Soldier or Scout?: People with a soldier mindset are only interested in defending their ideas and proving themselves right. They are not concerned with learning or understanding. People with a scout mindset are curious; they want to hear all sides of an issue and develop an informed opinion. Teach students the difference with the Soldier vs. Scout Mindset poster; then, when students disagree, help them have productive conversations by reflecting on their mentality and embrace a scout mindset.
  • Discussion Mapping: Revisit old conversations with this ingenious strategy. Observe and map a discussion by writing students’ names on a sheet of paper, then drawing arrows from each speaker to the next as the discussion occurs. This can help students understand if some people are talking too much or too little, as well as retrace their steps to revisit old points of discussion.
  • Reflection Journals: Journaling is demonstrated to help students retain learning, and to help them manage and process their own experiences in the classroom. Incorporate a reflection journal for academic reasons, or to cultivate healthy social-emotional learning in the classroom.
  • Just Be Your Authentic Self: None of us should try to be something we’re not. Find what you are passionate about. Reflect on your favorite lessons. What makes them your favorite? Tap into those passions in order to bring learning to life for your students. Once you’ve completed this process, take some time and allow students to do the same!

If you found these strategies to be helpful, be sure to check out Blue Apple’s Strategy Explorations. These free, teacher tested strategies can help educators foster communication, collaboration, differentiated instruction, and more. By embracing the power of quiet reflection, we can chart our course for the rest of the school year and equip students – and ourselves – with the best practices for success. So, amidst the weekly bustle, remember to leave space for a quiet moment, and give your classroom the gift of clarity.

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