Reflective Thinking in the Classroom
If you were a fly on my classroom would you would see me encouraging my students to demonstrate …
- Empathy & Understanding
- Analytic abilities
- 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.
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.