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Reflect. We throw this word around a lot in education. We must reflect on our teaching, our lessons, our day, our students, ourselves. Reflect all day long. Reflect with each other. Reflect in silence. Reflect through discussion. Reflect in writing. It’s really become a major buzz word. But, what does it really mean?
I had the distinct pleasure of sitting with two different groups of teachers and their Literacy Coach over the past two weeks where I saw reflection IN ACTION. I saw them grappling with questions. They were creating a lesson that each one of them would teach. They had hard, sometimes unanswered questions that they threw out on the table. They didn’t ask questions to which they already knew the answers. They truly wondered…. Would this same lesson play out in a science or social studies class? How long should we spend on this unit of study? What other types of opinion writing is out there besides essays? Would giving students a choice on what article they read create chaos in the classroom? How will I know what my students understand at the end of this lesson? What type of mentor text is best for this type of writing? I watched and participated in the discussion as our group reflected on what we already knew and what were in the middle of learning. It was invigorating. It was stimulating. It was freeing. It was amazing. We were reflecting.
I also sat with these groups as we reflected on what their students might do when presented with this newly created lesson. In order to do this we knew that FIRST we had to do this same work ourselves. Before asking students to find the main idea by looking at details in the story we looked for the main idea in both adult reading pieces, as well as in student appropriate text. Before asking students to look for features and structure in opinion pieces we looked for these same things in letters and articles expressing the authors opinion. The reflection that took place in those moments were off the charts. The excitement and discovery of doing what we expect of students is crucial to teaching. I heard……”Hey, this really is a better way to find the main idea/s of a story!” and “Wow! I can’t believe how many features I’m noticing when I read opinion pieces. There are so many common features across all the articles we’re reading. What did you find?!” Now that is reflection!
The excitement of our time studying together was palpable. The deep and profound growth that took place, as a result of these discussions, was intense. What I have experienced over the past two weeks with these two different groups of teachers mirrors what we read about in books and journals. I feel extremely lucky to have been part of it -for the sake of our students – as well as for myself personally. I saw reflection first hand and it was remarkable.