Thursday, October 27, 2016

Try, Reflect.

They would spin! 
Reflection is powerful in the learning process. But if you never try anything new or different, what's there to reflect on? If you roll out the same worksheets, year after year, there's not a whole lot to reflect on. "Yep! Things went exactly as they did the last 10 years!" Eh, not a lot of opportunity for growth.

Try something, then reflect.

Numerous times I go into a class not exactly sure what's going to happen. Perhaps it should make me more nervous than it does, but it's just the opposite. I think it's exciting! The element of the unknown, I think, is fun because it makes things a lot more interesting. Plus, what a great opportunity to reflect afterward. I think people shy away from trying new things at times because we don't want to fail. What's the worst that could happen? The lesson doesn't work and kids see that you are a human being who is willing to take risks and try new things? Doesn't sound that bad to me. Plus, the stakes aren't very high, but the potential to grow from that experience is high.

We did an activity (pictured above) the other day in which we finished a novel and I wanted each group to select the ten most important events from the story, with justification. I wanted to create some discussion/debate on what really impacted the story. Then, I wanted each group to display their 10 events so we could all step back and see what everyone thought at the same time and start to compare, see themes, trends, etc. So, I hung a piece of string from the ceiling for each group and we paper clipped each of our ten cards on the string. This way, we could see all the cards at the same time. So after we finished attaching the cards to the strings, we took a step back, ready to discuss. However, we noticed that the strings would spin with the subtle airflow in the room so the cards would turn so we couldn't see what was written. Disaster right!! Nope. Yeah, it didn't work very well, but we tried something, it didn't work as well as I'd hoped, so I reflected. But going a step further, it would have been a big turn off had I acted embarrassed in front of my class or tried to cover it up or make some sort of excuse. Instead, I was like, "Oh, well, that didn't work very well. I didn't know they were going to spin!" Then we had a discussion about how else we could have done the activity to produce a better outcome. They really got into it and felt ownership in coming up with ideas on how to solve our problem of the strings spinning. Being my students are education majors, it was a good opportunity to see the power of trying, and reflecting.

If we want our students to take risks and try new things, we should probably do the same.

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