The Power Of Reflection

In our lives today, we spend more time ‘doing’ and spend less time reflecting, thinking and daydreaming. As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. A quote that is still so relevant today.

It is not easy for people, young or old, to receive feedback that their work is less than perfect. For some, they believe that this feedback reflects on them. This negative thinking pattern can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, which can undermine the learning process.

What is Reflection?

Reflection means to assess how we can improve a task, a performance, a situation or a conversation. Reflection is about questioning what you do and why you do it and then deciding whether there is a better or more effective way of improving our performance.

Teachers at Santa Maria College promote self-reflection to ensure students are engaged in the process of thinking deeply about how they learn.  Students develop skills to monitor their progress, identify their strengths and growth areas, and use this information to be more effective learners.

We can reflect on our learning by considering the following questions:

  • What did you enjoy/ like about the task?
  • What was challenging about the task?
  • Did your time plan work effectively?
  • What did you do differently this time?
  • Why was this a great/ not so great piece of work?
  • What were you pleased with?
  • What were you disappointed with?
  • What would you change to do your work better next time?”
  • What do you want to work on for next time?

You will notice the question, “What mark did you get?” is not included. That is because it is far less important than any of the questions above.

Self-reflections on learning are very effective because they place responsibility and ownership for learning with students rather than solely the teacher. Each student becomes responsible for their learning and improvement with support from their teacher.

Reflecting on our actions

Encouraging teenagers to reflect on situations they have been involved in, such as conflict with family or friends or inappropriate behaviour, provides opportunities to learn from these experiences. Reflection is not just useful for teenagers but also adults.

We can reflect on our actions by considering the following questions:

  • What happened?
  • Did the action benefit you or others?
  • Did this action enable you to grow as a person?
  • Did this action show wisdom?
  • Did this action show courage?
  • What were some good things about the experience?
  • What were some negative things about the experience?
  • Did this action stem from you or from what others expected of you?
  • How would you respond differently next time?

Reflection does not require significant time. It can be a conversation, a short paragraph or a journal entry. Reflection is an essential component for anyone hoping to make the most of their experiences and their learning. So let us take time to pause and reflect. It will help us all become better learners and better people.

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