Making time for Reflection! & Reflection for Lower Elementary Students

As teachers, we all know that we should create time to reflect on our professional practices… we need to experience the process of reflecting, in order to be able to guide our students…

….but what get’s cut the easiest from our schedule if there is little time available? How can we see reflection as a high priority item on our never ending list of things to do? How can we get into the habit of making reflection time?


After two intense days at a recent conference, with most participants probably on information overload, Darren Hudgins (the conference organizer and leader) wanted to make a point and encouraged the attendees, not only to experience the conference (which was very hands on), but also to take the time to reflect. As the organizer, he built time in the schedule to reflect on our experience!

Darren gave us 10 minutes of UNINTERRUPTED time to reflect, to write…He called it “Content Vomit” (yes…very graphic). He reminded us, that we could clean it up later… 🙂

It was genius of him to remind the teachers to focus on writing and NOT to check their emails, their twitter stream… He challenged everyone to concentrate to reflect during that time.

My initial goals were to take a closer look at how conference attendees learn for sustainable change. I took the given time to reflect on what I knew and wanted to learn about reflecting as an educator.

Here are some of my unedited thoughts during these 10 minutes of reflection time:

  • Don’t let audience leave without having made a commitment to “one thing they will implement” when they get back to their routine, to their school, to their lives.
  • Do people know how to reflect?…. give them samples of reflection… prompts…. practice to just let go and just write… ok to clean it up later….
  • Feels weird  to write and not able to cross link…to not being able to open up new tab to look for other resources to bring into my writing…
  • I admit , that my fingers automatically wanted to switch to my Tweetdeck (just quick to check)
  • How can you help to make this exercise a quality reflection for attendees?
  • How can you help them see that sharing is a vital new part/natural sequence / part of fluency in education : experience >reflect > share
  • What new dimension does shared reflection bring to the table?
  • Can anyone reflect in writing?
  • Are some people better/more natural at reflecting than others? Why do people have an aversion to reflecting ?or to reflecting publicly?
  • Is 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to write too much? too little?
  • What will the feedback from other participants be? The math teachers? The ones who do not write much in their everyday lives? How sustainable is this reflection? How many will go back and integrate it in their own learning?
  • Do teachers need to know how to reflect and be in the habit of reflecting for themselves in order to encourage a reflective culture in their classroom?

Darren uses the above quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “A goal without a plan is a wish”. Making reflecting a priority is allowing ourselves the time to make a plan with the goal of being and growing as a professional educator!

We were given three choices of “roadmaps” to use for our reflection:

Choice 1: Four Dimensions of Reflective Learning by Karen Barnstable

I.  Thinking Back

II. Thinking Forward

III. Thinking Inward

IV. Thinking Outward

Choice Two: What? So What?


Describe the experience; outline what happened that compelled you to think about and change your behavior (i.e. learn).

So What?

Describe what difference it makes; outline what impact or meaning it has for you (or why it should matter to others).

Now What?

Describe what’s in store for the future now that you’ve learned from this experience; outline what you are going to do to continue your professional development in light of this learning.

Choice 3- Peter Pappas Taxonomy of Reflection

Bloom’s Remembering – Reflection: What did I do?
Bloom’s Understanding – Reflection: What was important about what I did? Did I meet my goals?
Bloom’s Applying – Reflection: When did I do this before? Where could I use this again?
Bloom’s Analyzing – Reflection: Do I see any patterns or relationships in what I did?
Bloom’s Evaluating – Reflection: How well did I do? What worked? What do I need to improve?
Bloom’s Creating – Reflection: What should I do next? What’s my plan / design?

OK, now I am switching gear and moving from the importance of reflection for us as professional educators and life long learners to embedding reflective practices in student learning.  I am following in Peter Pappas’ footsteps, when I want to distinguish between reflections for teachers and reflections for students. How can we prepare our students to become life long reflective learners? What are the benchmarks for each grade level to grow as a reflective learner?

Chrissy Hellyer used the following prompts for her fifth grade students.

I am working with our Kindergarten teacher on creating a starting point to expose, model, coach, guide and document (type for them, record them with audio/video, etc.) their reflection. We are looking for collaboration partners in the lower elementary school to create a guide for reflective practices in connection with their blogs or portfolios. If interested please tweet @langwitches or contact me via the blog.

Further resources about reflection:

Prezi by Peter Pappas