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!