The power of reflection

Pupils are able to reflect on their learning with various degrees of sophistication, not necessarily age related. Some older pupils find it almost impossible to be reflective (as do some adults), whilst others will be highly reflective. Teachers need to scaffold, model and support the development of reflection. It is not sufficient simply to provide the opportunity to be reflective, although this is a good starting point!

For example, when asking reflective questions, such as ‘What was the most difficult part of the lesson?’ some pupils will simply respond, ‘All of it’. This simplistic type of response is unlikely to lead to any change. With the aid of examples, sentence starters, more specific questions and prompting by the teacher, these pupils can go beyond the simplistic and start to give more detailed, more specific and more sophisticated and discerning answers. For example, they start to identify specific parts of questions they had difficulty with or can describe part of the activity they had trouble understanding. If you don’t regularly use reflection activities in your classroom, be prepared for some pupils to find it difficult. You will have to persevere! If you want reflection time to have impact it needs to be well planned and you need to push pupils to be analytical.

Metacognitive reflection includes not only an evaluation of the quality of work produced, but also the approach they have taken. It needs to focus on them as learners. Pupils need to understand that learners can increase their effectiveness and efficiency; that learning in itself is a skill set that they can develop. Being reflective is a way to examine and eventually enhance their learning prowess as well as being able to achieve higher quality end products.
An example below looks at how reflection can move pupils along a journey to consider not just the quality of their work, but also their approach and what it means to them as a learner.

Evaluating the product of my learning

Considering my learning approach

Thinking about me as a learner

To what extent I have met the success criteria?
Can I identify where in my work I have met the success criteria?
How would I rate the quality of the work against the criteria?
How does my work compare with the models of good work we reviewed earlier? How does my work compare to that of my peers?
What improvements could I make?
Are there are any success criteria that should have been stated that weren’t?

Did I understand the criteria? Did I ask any questions that helped me to have a better understanding of the success criteria?
Did I have a really good picture before starting the task as to what I was trying to achieve?
How did I use the success criteria or mark scheme?
Did I look carefully enough at the examples of good work?
Did I break down the task and take long enough to consider the components?

Why is success criteria and mark schemes important to learners?
Why do I need to have a really clear picture of what I am aiming for before I begin?
Why is it important to use the success criteria before the task starts / as the work progresses / and at the end of a task?
What advice would I give to other learners about using success criteria effectively?
Could I have made better use of the success criteria before / during / after completing the task?

EVENT/ACTIVITY - e.g. What happened? What was the sequence of events? What role did I play? What tasks did I perform?

REFLECTION/ANALYSIS - What have I learnt from this experience/activity? What issues or questions did it raise for me?

UNDERPINNING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING - What knowledge/theory helps me to understand this event/activity? How does the learning link to other subjects or previous learning? What will it help me with in the future?

ISSUES FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING - What else do I need to know to increase my understanding? How can my knowledge /practice be improved? Are there any unresolved issues, e.g. what I am still unsure of?
Other examples of questions that help to consider the three aspects of the reflection

Evaluating the product of my learning

Considering my learning approach

Thinking about me as a learner

Today I have learnt..
The most important part of the learning was..
The key words from the lesson are...
The lesson today links to other subjects through...
This lesson is important because...
In the wider world, this learning applies to...
Sum up this lesson in one sentence...
I am not sure about...
I need to remember...

What did you do first? How did you break the task down into chunks?
The skills I have used today are...
The most difficult part of the lesson today was...
The part of the lesson that went really well was...
Did your group work well together? What contribution to the group did you make?
What was the level of your concentration and focus in the lesson today?
What learning strategies did you use?
What resources did you use? Why?
Explain the steps for completing the task.
What kinds of question did you ask in the lesson?
What did you do if you were stuck?
How did you record your answers?
What choices did you make in today's lesson?

I feel happy about...
How is my work different today from previous pieces?
I need to practice... This will help me to...
How has my work progressed? What has helped me to make this progress?
What I need to do next time is...
My confidence level is...because...
A question I should have asked was...
How could I improve my teamwork skills?
Why is it important for the team to work well?
Did you use an effective learning strategy? Would you choose a different strategy next time?
Did you choose the right resources for the task? Would you make any changes to the resources? Why are choosing the right resources important for this task?
Did you spend enough time on each part of the task? What impact did this have on the outcome? How would you change your approach?
Did you start at the right place? Did you break the task down? Why is it important to break the task into chunks?

When? Where? How long? With whom? Why?
It is important to give pupils the opportunity to reflect at different points along their learning journey. Sometimes reflection may be at the end of a unit of work, at the end of a task or at the end of a lesson. Reflection time may also be carried out mid-point in a lesson or at the start of a lesson, for example to consider how yesterday's lesson can be used to help them make better progress in today's lesson.

The length of time for reflection may vary depending on what is being evaluated and the depth of the evaluation being sought. Ensure you give sufficient thinking time, not just time for answering the question or prompt.
Reflection can be one-to-one at any point during a lesson through careful questioning and prompting by the teacher.

Reflection can be an individual, a group activity or a whole class exercise. It is important to think creatively about how reflection skills can be developed and for the class teacher to make professional judgements about how reflection can aid learning in their subject.



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