Promoting Reflection

Today at Educon, I led a conversation titled “Promoting Reflection.” I really wanted to stay true to the spirit of Educon and make this a conversation/workshop, not a lecture. I tried to take on the role of the facilitator and tried to make sure that I talked less than the group as a whole. I steered the discussion, but it belonged to those in the room and those participating online. I wanted to share some of what we came up with today. It is a combination of the work from our collaboration Google Doc and my own planning about the topic.

What is reflection?

  • Thinking about stuff
  • Meta-cognition – thinking about thinking
  • Creating associations
  • Learning

Slowing Down the Learning Process – Pro/Con

  • Not an inch deep and a mile wide
  • Get a chance to make connections – things aren’t in isolation
  • An opportunity to process and retain
  • More careful analysis – less “frantic”
  • Teach less and learn more.
  • Without DI, kids get bored.
  • Let students know why we are slowing down.
  • Thoughtful about what you are going to include – forces some prioritizing
  • Ask STUDENTS! They are the best resource about what they need.

Characteristics of a Reflective Educator

  • The reflective educator has time set aside specifically for thinking about his professional practice, growth needs, and students’ needs.
  • The reflective educator takes action upon his focused thoughts about professional practice. He does not continue in a course of action that he has realized is not working.
  • The reflective educator analyzes his own lessons to see what worked and what did not. He makes changes as necessary. When a lesson does not go well, which will happen to everyone, he learns from it and does not teach the lesson the same way again.
  • The reflective educator recognizes the inherent differences in his classes (when he has more than one group of students) and does not treat all classes the same by teaching exactly the same lesson.
  • The reflective educator takes planned time within class to determine the efficacy of the lesson and take steps to improve it, if need be.
  • The reflective educator knows both his strengths and his students’ strengths. His lessons are designed around their strengths and areas of interest to maximize learning.
  • The reflective educator is cognizant of his own weaknesses and takes planned steps to improve in those areas.
  • There is culturally no time for rest – there are too many activities and demands for attention. Must be prioritized.
  • Must have a life outside of school. Physical activity provides opportunity.
  • Retreats from the normal day is helpful.
  • Reflection is an active, intentional process.
  • Reflection involves being challenged.
  • Reflection = caring.
  • Using spirituality to support educational reflection.

Reflection and Passion

  • Reflection is a state of mind that needs to be developed.
  • Students need to practice reflective skills on things that they care about to develop a reflective mindset.
  • Promoting reflection is tied to making learning meaningful. When it is something they care about, they will naturally think about it. Reflection is a way of processing things that matter.
  • Don’t force it outside of school; the risk of killing their passion is not worth it.
  • Create a #GTD=Getting Things Done mentality, to support your reflective process

Public vs. Private Reflection

  • There is an inherent risk of failure or rejection in a public medium.
  • Learn about and make connections, such as reflecting with others on sites like
  • Reflection comes at the end of learning.
  • Public information can help benefit others.
  • Learn communication skills.
  • Closed networks can help protect students as they learn
  • Comments promote authentic dialogue

Intro to Blogging

After this, we looked at reflecting in different mediums and we experimented with several different types of blogging. Here are some of the sites that we looked at in the different ways of reflecting. There are many different ways that both we and our kids can learn and share. I think it is interesting that by far the most popular tool was Posterous. Even those without laptops were able to take out their smartphone and start a blog within minutes.

Written Blogs – Use laptops

  • WordPress
  • Blogger      Uses a Google Account
  • EduBlogs   Same as WordPress
  • Posterous  – sends a private post and posts normally to the blog.

Audio blogs/Podcasts – Use phones and computer microphones.

  • iPadio

Photoblogs – Use Cell Phone Pictures.

  • Posterous
  • Instagram

Video Blogs

  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Posterous
Google Reader
I encourage you to support all of the bloggers: brand new, returning, and veteran. Here are their blogs and Twitter IDs if they have any.
Name Blog Twitter ID
Philip Cummings
Jeff Pelich @jpkitchener
jay brown
Megan Howard @mmhoward
Bill Belsey, grade 5 Teacher @Inukshuk
Debra Guglielmini (education practice reflection) @questionmyworld
Bill Campbell My Posterous &  TabletTails @BillCamp
Rod Corbett @rbcorbett
RJ Stangherlin
(school blog is currently private)
Dana Patterson @dane1434
Katie McFarland @katiemc827
Lisa Dabbs (virtual attendee) @teachingwthsoul
Crystal Collins @CrystalMess
If you found any benefit in this session, please consider coming to or watching TeachMeet NJ. Stephen Davis, Jamie Josephson, Samantha Morra, and myself will be presenting in a block on promoting reflection.

2 comments to Promoting Reflection

  • wmchamberlain
    Twitter: wmchamberlain

    Thanks for the comments4kids shout-out. The one thing I always seem to forget is the amount of cognitive dissonance there is for teachers to make the decision to become reflective in public. We have been trained from an early age that failure is not acceptable, questioning oneself is inappropriate, and everything we introduce into public needs to be “finished”. Blogging reflectively is really the antithesis of these cultural directives. It can be a very difficult process for some.
    wmchamberlain´s last blog post ..What is Going on in Egypt

  • ktenkely
    Twitter: ktenkely

    Thank you for sharing this all here for those of us who didn’t get to join you live. The more I blog, the more I realize the importance of reflection on my development and growth as a learner. We don’t provide enough time for it in the school day!
    ktenkely´s last blog post ..Capzles Interactive Timeline Tutorial

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