When A Reflection is Not Narcissistic


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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