Reflecting on the Fly

It’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged. One of the frustrations of this year is that I’ve felt that I’ve had so little time to reflect. Reflection is one of those activities whose absence one doesn’t necessarily feel immediately. It’s like sliding by on too little sleep; you can do it for a bit, but soon you start to feel it’s absence. Here are a few ways I’ve found time for reflection even in the midst of the chaos.

Turn your planner into a reflection journal 
I’ve never been one to write detailed lesson plans (and I’m grateful I’m not required to), but I do tend to sketch them out in my planner. In the 5 minutes before the beginning of a faculty meeting or while waiting for an oil change, I’ll pull out my planner and jot quick notes to myself- This worked well overall, but didn’t engage quieter students or Need more time for brainstorming or Totally befuddled students. Scaffold better. These notes are invaluable in planning the next time around. Don’t feel guilty about making your reflections short; some reflection is better than none.

Don’t let being stuck without your preferred medium be an excuse
If you generally keep your notes electronically and you find yourself without your computer or tablet, scribble reflection on a napkin or a receipt. Later you can snap a pic of it with your phone and insert it into a document. If you’re without a pen or pencil, there are mobile apps like Evernote or the Notes app on your phone that are perfect for these kinds of quick notes.

Let your students reflect for you
They can’t do all the work, of course, but I’ve found that asking students to reflect on an assignment or project is useful in jogging my mind later. I often use a Google form for this purpose. It’s great for gathering quick feedback. Here is an example of a feedback form for a 7th grade medieval travelers documentary.

Put reflection on your to-do list
When you can schedule time for reflection, literally block it off on your calendar or put it on your to-do list. Making reflection a need-to, rather than a “gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I had time to,” makes it much more likely to happen. That’s the only way this post got written 🙂

Are there other ways that you’ve found to carve out space and time for reflection?


3 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Fly

  1. At Teaching with Primary Sources workshops, we use an inquiry model from Barbara Stripling (connect, wonder, investigate, construct, express, reflect). TPS folks (not me) have developed a reflection tool that our workshop participants fill out throughout our workshops, addressing their dual roles of Teacher as Learner and Teacher as Teacher. As in your case, the real challenge is to carve out a time during a jam-packed workshop day to reflect at all! At any rate, you’re welcome to take a look at our reflection instrument:

  2. Hey Meredith,

    I connected with this post because my planner has become more of a reflection tool this year. Last year, I did write detailed agendas for the day and I found that it got incredibly messy because i was always crossing things out or adding stuff. Nothing from last year’s planner was transferred into the one I use for this school year. In my new planner, I started writing out detailed agendas again, but by October it became more about notes for the day. Typed out lesson plans are enough. When it comes to having a planner now, I like idea of just using those daily blocks as a reflection space. Come next August, I bet a planner filled with reflection notes will help me a lot more than scribbled agendas.

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