Reflective Thinking in the Classroom

Reflective Thinking in the Classroom

So it goes without saying that we want our children/students to become successful, reflective tinkers … & so then the question becomes: Are we in fact doing this & if so, how?

If you were a fly on my classroom would you would see me encouraging my students to demonstrate

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy & Understanding
  • Insight
  • Analytic abilities
  • Flexibility
  • Decision-making skills
  • Evaluation & re-evaluation skills & strategies

As The Teacher:

As a teacher I make a conscious effort to model & practice the above for all to see. I “think/talk out loud” to myself for my students to hear and benefit from. As I work through concepts and problems, and reflect upon strategies and processes I make sure that my kids can hear me, see me, learn from me – we learn together.   

I act as a guide and model. I also try to take advantage of situations in which I can step back and act as a facilitator – encouraging students to take the lead. I encourage student directed, discovery learning.
I make sure to stress & value the process – the journey.

Know Thyself:

In order for students to truly act as reflective thinkers and employ/own the skills they must understand who they are. To this end I encourage students to ask themselves the following questions – to really understand the following:

  • How do I learn best? e.g. auditory, visual, tactile, etc.
  • Do I like to explore concepts alone, with a friend or in a group?
  • What support can my teachers give me to ensure learning; to encourage growth & development?
  • How do I best “show what I know”?
  • What are my interests?
  • What are some of my beliefs about the people and world around me, and do I have any biases?
  • Am I an active listener?
  • Am I open minded?

The Classroom Atmosphere:

I create … 
… an environment in which students are leaders and I as the teacher am a facilitator
… a safe, secure environment – establish/review the ground rules prior to discussion
… an active, organic, respectful, exciting and encouraging environment.
… a seating plan that encourages discussion, e.g. in a circle, a horseshoe or sitting in a circle on the carpet.
… an environment that encourages diversity, curiosity, creativity, imagination & confidence.
… activities that encourage refection –  that encourages / requires curiosity, reflection & an inquiry approach.

Suggested Activities Include:

  • Class Meetings.
  • Read Alouds – picture books are a great resource no matter the grade level!
  • Class debates.
  • Writing / sharing Persuasive Essays – including practice taking the opposite point of view.
  • Learning Logs.
  • Problem Solving Activities (e.g. Math, science, citizenship, social, interpersonal).
  • Opportunities to gather, organize, evaluate & reevaluate information.
  • Create opportunities for authentic problem solving activities.
  • Hands-on activities.
  • Drama activities.
  • KWL charts – preview, review, revisit, reevaluate.
  • Posing open-ended question practice observation skills – the world around us, social integration, body language, etc.
  • Practice asking & answering questions: Ask “why” and “how”: “Why do you feel this?” “How do you know this?”
  • Peer & group work – encouraging the discussion and valuing of differing points of view.
  • Whole group/small group brainstorming sessions.
  • Activities which afford students the opportunity to discuss the topic/concept with a friend or in small groups first – then engage in a whole group discussions.
  • Activities including structured processing time.
  • Follow-up activities requiring reflecting, reevaluating, & thinking about alternative approaches, information & next steps.
  • Opportunities to “show what you know” & to consider the ideas of others; to express understanding / beliefs clearly; to consider & build on the ideas of others.

4 responses to “Reflective Thinking in the Classroom

  1. >Thanks for sharing so many great ideas. Reflection is so important to professional growth. Your ideas are very practical.

  2. >Thanks & good to hear! Practical is definitely what I am going for here in this "Blog World"! Cheers,AllyPS Going to check out your blog now 😉

  3. >Wow! I think I need to copy off your post into my workplan and check off how many aspects of it are happening in my classroom at the end of each day. Thanks!

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