Ms Eppele's Blog

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Being Reflective

on April 30, 2011

I started piecing together my working portfolio last week. I realized as I was doing this I had changed in the way I reflect on my practice. I started looking and thinking about how and why I do things in the classroom. I know I always did the daily reflection in my head during my commute home from work, but how great is that if it is only in my head? Would I be able to go back and think about something again without having any evidence? Going through the articles, readings, data, and notes for the past two terms I realized how much evidence I had collected and how much it meant to me as I learned about my learning.
I had a learning team meeting this week and this too started me thinking about reflection and the students. It was my turn to share out and our facilitator is great at pulling my ideas out of me. The question was about how I have changed as a learner and how have I changed outlook on how I teach. Our learning team is based on non-fiction reading comprehension, and it ties into everyday learning. As I was sharing how I see myself as a learner, I kept referring back to how the kids see themselves as learners. My facilitator asked me if I meant how I used the language of learning in the classroom. I do not like that term, language of learning, it dawned on me it was more about the conversation of learning. I believe there needs to be an open discussion with the students each time we teach. To model how we learn and how others might learn. My students are constantly telling me how they like to learn. My question is, how did I get them there and how do we keep it there as the students move onto new classrooms each year? How do we keep this wondering going throughout their learning?
How do my students learn? How do they understand how they learn? Do they reflect? How do they reflect? Should I teach them to reflect? Am I already teaching them to reflect? I started observing the kids this week looking for reflections they were making. I noticed them discussing their thoughts with their peers, I saw them sit and ponder about what we were doing in class. I saw some students questioning why we did this and did that. The students were trying new skills without any worry, they just wanted to see if they could do something. My observations led me to believe that they were already doing it, they may not be aware they are doing it but they were!
I decided to really pay attention to what I said to the students during lessons, discussions, class meetings, daily conversations etc… I find that I really put a lot of ownership on the students. They come to me with a problem like not being able to open their snack. I always say, I do not open snacks for kids, have you asked anyone else to see if you can solve this problem on your own. Sure enough, one minute later I see the student eating and I ask how does that feel? Do you feel better that you solved the problem rather than me? The students have a look of accomplishment and that is all I need to make my day. I know it takes a little longer than me simply opening the package, but in the long run it is well worth it for the student. I see myself do this all day with the students’ learning. They now don’t even let me finish the sentence before they have figured out their problem.
Today as I was going through my GoogleReader I came across a blog that put it all together for me. It was about the students as reflectors of their own learning. How creating an autonomous learning environment. Dylan Wiliam, talks about the students managing their own learning, and how they are already doing it naturally but as teachers we do not believe that the students are capable of it. The students become a part of the learning rather than being taught to.
http://www.journeytoexcellence.org.uk/videos/expertspeakers/metacognitiondylanwiliam.asp
Another great tidbit comes from Stephen Heppell, and he discusses how students are explorers of their own learning. He says that as students learn they are already reflecting on how they learn. As and educator we need to embrace this and allow the students to explore their own learning.

Through this process I have come to see that what I have always thought about education has some validity to it. I use to think I did things a certain way because it worked for me and that was it. I now understand that I do certain things because I value the results the students are achieving. I see that they students are gaining a better understanding of their own learning and as a bonus so am I! The idea of creating a safe learning environment has been continuously popping in my head throughout my field study, and the idea of creating intrinsic motivation as also been creeping into my thoughts. I feel that my inquiry into creating an environment of wonderers has been a wonderful way for me to gain more knowledge in how do we get there.

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