Art of Reflection
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning
how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott
The art of reflection is a powerful process that strengthens the habits of mind that one uses to learn and grow. In the middle school, we engage in the “Reflective Loop” as described by Developmental Designs, a social-emotional program the middle school advisory teachers have been trained in to help guide the advisory program. Taking time to reflect on learning behaviors enables students to identify strengths and areas to develop. In class and during advisory, students think about their thinking (metacognition) to understand how their actions impact their ability to control their learning. The result of some of this work will be shared with parents and guardians during two Portfolio Shares for students in grades six, seven and eight in January and May.
The portfolio share was created two years ago as a way to provide students an opportunity to reflect on how they see themselves as learners and use that information to set goals that will help them be the best students they can be, the primary goal of our advisory program. The share also provides children and their parents/guardians a forum to come together, in a structured environment to discuss about strengths and areas to development as they continue to mature and grow. Previous feedback indicates that these gatherings have been productive and special for families.
The Lawrence faculty frequently makes time to reflect on their practice to determine impact on student learning and growth. This past fall, the middle school team dedicated multiple meetings to assessing the portfolio shares. Although we all agreed that it has been a worthwhile activity for students, teachers and families during the past two years, we felt the need to enhance the process to make sure that there was a developmental progression of how students engage in the reflection process and the tools they use to share their observations from grade six to grade eight.
The sixth and seventh grade students will continue to use binders as they reflect on both content skills and the learning process in each subject area. The seventh graders will also reflect on their growth in each class and complete a Learning Style Inventory to begin understanding what type of learner they are and which learning and study strategies are most effective for them to use. The eighth grade students will be using an electronic blog to share subject specific reflections of their learning in school and how they see themselves as learners out of the academic setting. We believe these enhancements will strengthen how students reflect on their learning and strengthen the habits of mind they need to for 21st century learning.