It’s an all-too-common scenario in class: the teacher giving back students’ outputs with comments for improvement and then pupils glancing only at the score, not bothering to see the remarks. Most educators don’t think much of this behavior. Some don’t see what’s wrong. But here’s what’s wrong: learning stops as soon as their accomplished book report or writing homework is returned. Kids toss out that essay into the back of their backpack or under their bed and miss that crucial opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills. What your class needs to learn is the habit of self-reflection.
The Value of Introspection
Helping pupils think through the way they work can make a lot of difference in children’s learning. For one, it will make them more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. In writing, for example, when they read again what they wrote after a few weeks, they’ll have a fresh pair of eyes, able to see that they did a fantastic job creating that giant pink ant character but tripped on some spelling booboos. By being familiar with their good and bad points, they’ll write better next time.
Another reason why you should facilitate self-reflection is students become more in touch with their learning styles in the process. When the class refers back to their work, they’ll remember how they came to understand concepts. For instance, they probably learned characterization best when you showed them pictures of different cartoon protagonists or when you put them in groups and had them discuss the characters listed on their first-grade writing worksheets. When they’re deeply aware of how they take in information, they’ll be able to change their study habits over time.
The most outstanding merit of student self-reflection is that it’s good for emotional health. When kids meditate, they get to process feelings, especially the negative ones, like frustration and bitterness. When they see their low score on the book report, they’re able to explore what makes them upset. Was it the hard work not paying off? Was it because of the regret of not doing enough? These questions will help not just in making necessary changes but also in dealing with real-life setbacks or challenges. You’re teaching them an important life skill.
Various exercises facilitate self-reflection, but the most important thing is to allow time for it. One thing that you can do is to let them have a diary. Encourage them to write down what they learned after they accomplish a project or homework. Let them discuss insights with a partner or a small group. Another exercise is to have students interview each other. Just allow them to share how they worked through the requirement.
You can give quick questions like “What’s the best part about doing this project?” or “Where did you struggle most?” But if you want a bolder, more creative exercise, try this: when giving back their essay or assignment, leave it with no grade or numerical rating. Instead, let your pupils grade their work using a standard rubric and your comments. This will prompt them to reflect on their motivations.
It’s necessary to give your class the time to reflect on their work. It helps them be more self-aware and emotionally stable, which is essential not just in accomplishing homework but also in achieving life success.