Posted in Education, Reflection, Teaching

The Power of Reflection Through Self-Assessment

My school is finally beginning a self-assessment program for teachers this year.  It will be used to help frame the review conversations we have with the assistant headmaster in December.  I’m super excited about the opportunity to reflect on my work thus far this year.  I feel as though this has been one of my best years, to date, as a teacher.  I’ve tried some new things, put a different spin on a few lessons, and have really tried to grow professionally.  Being self-aware of my learning and teaching makes me a better teacher.  Having the opportunity to reflect on my progress will be completely beneficial.  The same can be said for my students.  Reflection and self-assessment are two vital and valuable ways students can grow and develop in and out of the classroom.  When they take the time to pause and really think back on their work and progress in class, they will begin to see where they can improve for the future.

Today in STEM class, I piloted my new self-assessment reflection tool.  While my rationale for creating this self-assessment was all about trying to effectively close each class period, the benefits are certainly far reaching.  Not only does it serve as a nice Exit Ticket for the students and the class period, it is also a fine reflection tool and way for the students to constantly think about our school’s Habits of Learning and how they are practicing them in class.

With about 10 minutes left in class, the students completed the online Google Form.  My expectations were a bit low as this was the first time the students have completed this process in class.  I went over the instructions and details of the form.  The students then got right to work.

I was blown away by their responses.  The students were candid and honest.  Many of the students effectively captured their work in class.  They were descriptive and specific.  One student even said, “I deserve a low effort grade today because I didn’t do anything when I finished my math work, waiting for the teacher.”  Wow!  They are really taking to heart the power of reflection and self-awareness.  The students also set very realistic goals for the next work period.  I was amazed.  I thought that some students would just complete the form to get it done, but almost every student seemed to take it seriously.  One student wrote, “I need to not goof around as much during our next class.”  They totally understand themselves and their learning styles.

Why is this?  How were they able to so genuinely reflect on their work today in class?  Is it because we’ve been focusing on the Habits of Learning so much this year?  Have the ideas of self-awareness and ownership really started to sink in?  Did having them utilize the Student-Led Conference format allow them to really know themselves as learners and own their work and effort?  Since they know what they need to do, were they able to so honestly reflect because of it?  Or is it a combination of the two?  Could it be the students themselves?  Are they just more attuned to their learning?  Is that it?  Or, is it the presentation?  Am I introducing the idea of reflection and self-assessment in such a way that it inspires them to want to put forth their best effort in doing so?

I may never truly know for sure what is causing this awesome reflectiveness amongst my students.  Regardless though, I’m super happy and proud of them.  They are going to learn and grow so much over the course of this year because of the reflection that they will continue to do.  We’ve already seen many of the boys apply this reflection to their learning and behavior in the classroom.  Wow!

I’m so glad that I took the time to reflect on my professional goals and create this new form for the boys to use at the close of each STEM class.   The power of reflection is infinite and vast.  I’ve grown so much as a teacher over the past two years because of my reflective blog entries.  Taking a few moments at the end of each class day to ponder and reflect on my teaching practice has allowed me to find my weaknesses and transform them into strengths.  I couldn’t have done this without stopping to reflect daily.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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