Our team is making significant time for updating student portfolios and learning reflections this week. Students will set goals, organize signature learning examples, and even reflect on their passions and interests--the kind of learning they often engage in outside of school. Then next week, students and/or teachers will present the portfolios during the family-student-educator conferences.
There are no standards for this reflection work, and there is no time set aside in the curriculum for these efforts, however we know that this kind of goal setting, review, and reflection are essential to good learning. Dewey's quote says it well, "We do not learn from experience. . .we learn from reflecting on experience."
If we simply think of students as vessels that we pour information into, they will not learn. Instead as we choreography learning experiences with and for students, we have to make time for reflection, and in that reflection, we have to let students know that they are first in line when it comes to leading their learning. Educators, parents, coaches, friends, and family members may help, but in the end, the learner is in charge of his or her learning, and to be in charge and lead your learning well, you have to make the time to reflect.
Reflection is not a simple matter, and it's also not an activity that everyone gravitates towards. You can see the pained look on some students' faces when I ask them to use a checklist such as this math learning checklist to gauge their learning, interests, and needs. On these reflection sheets, I always ask students how family members and educators may help them learn. A question like this puts students in charge of their learning and helps parents and educators know how to help those students too.
As we move forward in teaching and learning, we have to look towards creating teaching/learning programs that are more holistic, programs that integrate time for reflection, social emotional learning, healthy eating, lots of play, physical activity, the arts, and academics too. We have to look for ways to integrate these significant areas of teaching and learning so that our students develop in healthy, happy ways.