When I was a new teacher, I often saw this Dewey quote in educational texts and hanging in offices. Perhaps I underestimated its importance at the time or perhaps I have been unconsciously impacted by it. Not matter what the reason, it is clear to me that reflecting on my experiences has been one of the most important factors in my personal and professional success.
Daily reflection was the first practice that I decided that I must continue to do with purpose. I reserve 15 minutes at the end of each day to sit quietly and reflect on my own effectiveness, student engagement, and enjoyment.
Over the years I have found 7 truths that guide my decision-making.
- Students work best when they aren’t being evaluated
- I teach best to small groups
- Students learn best in small groups
- Students learn best when they are engaged
- Student engagement increases with ownership
- Every student is doing the best they can right now.
- Every student can do better with time and support.
I consider these insights along with this quote from Tim Ferriss every day.
“What would this look like if it were easy?”
These guiding principles lead me to what a friend, Robin Shrum, calls strategic abandonment. This process requires us to think about the routines that we may continue simply out of habit rather than effectiveness. These questions will be the focus of my reflection as term one 2020 comes to a close.
How have I empowered students to demonstrate their learning in ways that honors their history, interest, and ability?
What individual student work might I be able to convert into small group experiences?
In what ways can I transform knowledge acquisition experiences to integrate student interests?
How can I eliminate classroom routines that have not been established by students?
Which supports have been well-received by students; how can these be improved?
What measures have I taken to amplify students’ voices in and outside of the classroom?
I’d love for you to share your answers to these questions and any additional thoughts you have.