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Encouraging reflective thought and action

The best learning takes place when students have the opportunity to reflect on what they have been doing. This reflection helps them consolidate their knowledge, skills, and understanding. It can also greatly increase their self-awareness as a learner.

Teachers need a strong sense of what progression in senior English looks like. This enables them to assess forward momentum and to help students recognise it for themselves.

Students engage in reflective thought and action as they evaluate their own work, a text, or a source of information.

By reflecting on the effectiveness of their actions and the progress of their students, and using the outcomes of their reflection to inform planning, teachers are engaging in “ teaching as inquiry”.

By engaging students in constructive reflection, teachers encourage them to take ownership of their own learning – essential if students are to have high expectations of themselves, and to accelerate their achievement.

How can I encourage reflective thought and action?

Some suggestions:

  • Consider the use of journals or e-portfolios to record reflections on learning.
  • Embed revision in tasks instead of leaving all revision until a task has been completed.
  • Following feedback, co-construct feed forward and next steps with students.
  • Survey students at the end of a unit of work: What did they learn? What do they need more help with?
  • Provide structured time and opportunities (prompts or stubs are useful) for students to think carefully about the processes and strategies they are using in their writing, reading, speaking, presenting, and listening.
  • Model reflection on writing.
  • Deconstruct and discuss a range of exemplars before students’ plan their own work.

Read snapshot 11: Reflective journals to see how one teacher discovered how to get much greater mileage out of her feedback.

Last updated July 16, 2012