When A Reflection is Not Narcissistic

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As we know from Greek Mythology, Narcissus loved himself because he was so handsome and every girl and nymph he met fell in love with him.  This self-devotion was a real weakness for him as he fell in love with his own reflection in the water and he wasted away and died.

But a reflection in a mirror is very different from a reflection on learning in a classroom!  Students need the opportunity to look back on where they have been, so they have a better idea of where they are going!

For summer learning, our school had us read a number of articles on assessment so we could deepen our understanding about learning.  One article that really impressed me was “Working Inside the Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Classroom” by Paul Black, Christine Harrison and Clare Lee.  This article provided many insights and one in particular resonated with me about reflections.

As I finished my first unit of the year, which reviewed the required summer reading, I added a student reflection at the very end.  I asked the students to give me feedback on the demonstrations of learning throughout the unit by using the ‘traffic light icons” as indications of understanding.

I was both pleased and surprised at the feedback provided by the students.  While the unit achieved many of its goals in helping the students acquire new skills, I recognized that some of the activities did not give students enough time to fully understand the material.  I would not have known this if I had not taken the time to ask for a student reflection.

I encourage all teachers to build this process into their units.  Not only does it provide insights about the lesson planning for next year, but it begins a dialogue with this year’s students about their own learning!

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