If you have read all of the steps in my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series, there is a distinct possibility that you may seriously be considering rolling out the ideas presented in your own PE program. Before doing so, please keep in mind that what I have written about relates specifically to my own teaching environment and students. There are aspects of this series that may not work in your own teaching space given the access to resources that you have and the overall set up of your class. Good teaching requires innovative thinking, so I’m sure that you have already thought about modifications that you would need to make to allow this blog post series to fit and to work within your program. So feel free to change up any aspect of this series when applying the process of student reflection in your own teaching environment.
What I would love to know is how you’ve changed things up or modifications you have made so that I can learn some new ideas for delivering student reflection in PE. As I lead many workshops and consult for different PE departments around the world, I am always looking to share great ideas, so please do let me know how you may be applying student reflection in PE.
Step 5 of my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series was all about establishing expectations and to ensure that the students understand and grasp just how important being reflective is when setting goals for ourselves. To aid in making this happen discussions need to take place about the power of reflection and it must be a requirement that the students reflect at the end of each class for a set period of time. This period of time is up to you, but my general recommendation would be that you get your students to reflect for roughly 3-5 minutes at the end of each class for a few weeks.
To give you a specific example, my students have PE for 65 minutes two times in an 8-day cycle. I would have them reflect every class for three or four weeks straight. This means that they would be required to write reflections for roughly 6-8 classes in a row. However, this could go on longer if need be.
Once you have done this, you are ready to make the transition over to Step 6 in the process which is all about students ‘owning their goal’.
Now that the students are very aware of their personal goal and have reflected on it with regularity, we want to begin to ease off of the requirement placed on them to have to reflect each class. In order to assess whether or not they have truly taken ownership over their goal, we must allow them some freedom to decide when to reflect. We ultimately want to get them into a head space that has them identify certain AHA moments in their learning or recognizing when they have made specific progress in regards to their goal.
In setting up an environment that allows this to happen, you must have the students' reflection sheets or other digital means of reflecting ready to go every class. This is the most important part of allowing students the opportunity to take ownership of their personal goal. When the students identify major moments of learning related to their goal, they need to understand that it is critically important to document this progress by doing a quick reflection. Seeing as this could be at any point of class during a unit, having the tools to reflect ready to go allows the students to access their means to reflect any time that they want. It doesn’t have to be at the end of class, it can be any time.
I will give you a hypothetical situation here. Let’s say Student A has a personal goal related to being more proactive in communicating with their teammates, sharing ideas, asking questions, and clarifying uncertainties. If an activity was done in class that required groups of students to work together and Student A took initiative to be more a part of the group and to communicate on a deeper level, this may be a worthy time for them to reflect. Perhaps their group even had more success due to an idea that Student A had shared with his or her peers. This is even a better time to reflect. So, the idea is that Student A would hopefully recognize that their contribution was important and that it is a great moment to go and reflect. This is the time that they would go over to their sheet or digital means to reflect and do up a quick reflection that captures their progress or learning related to their personal goal. They wouldn’t just walk away in the middle of an activity or game, but during the next break, they could easily go and reflect during this time.
I guarantee that there will be students who take no initiative whatsoever to reflect on their personal goals. I have had students not do a single reflection for 4-5 classes in a row in PE. This will no doubt happen with your students as well, so what should you do when it happens? Certain students will take some nudging for sure, there is no question about it. With some students you will have to stay on them and help them understand when they should reflect. Give these students a prod at the beginning of a class and say something to the effect, “Today you are going to focus on your personal goal and by the end of class write a 2-3 sentence reflection about how you did in regards to the goal.” It is necessary to remind them about their goal and to jump in when necessary to get them to write reflections. Also, as their teacher, when you have seen major progress or a genuine moment that they have demonstrated moving forward with their goal, you can easily let them know they’ve done well and it’s time to go over to do a quick reflection. The bottom line is that you must stay on those students who need it in regards to reflecting on their personal goal.
Hopefully, over the course of the semester or term, you will see their reflection sheets begin to fill up with their thoughts and ideas. Great evidence to support their growth for sure!!
Steps 1-6 have all been about creating a methodically engineered environment which supports authentic goal-setting and working toward achieving these goals through genuine reflection. It will take time, effort, energy and consistently to make it all happen, but once again I would like to stress that it is so worth it in the long run. I'll be posting the last step of my 'supercharging student reflection' blog post series within a couple of days. Hope I have you thinking!!!