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Reflection

Disclaimer: Today, the adorable faces pictured on this blog are a marketing ploy. This entry is all about the professional inner life of their science teacher (and plenty of other teachers, too, I’d reckon).

As a new teacher, I spent quite a bit of time looking for an “instructional manual” of sorts—a compilation of do’s and don’ts that would help ensure my classroom was well-run, joyful, productive. I never found a neatly constructed list, but wiser, more experienced minds consistently and strongly recommended the practice of reflection. Teachers who reflected, I was told, were more likely to handle a greater range of situations effectively and more fully meet the needs of their students.

Five years later, I can say I don’t reflect nearly as much as I’d like to. Even so, the benefits pile up. It’s in journaling that I begin to unpack why a lesson falls flat or misses an objective, or which approach better fits which class. Writing can illuminate the way a student repeatedly lights up with a given topic, or seems quieter over time, or shows more confidence with theory than practice. It’s as if insight physically appears between the lines on the page.

Bixby has a long, close history with reflection—for students as well as teachers. At the end of the science fair, for instance, students will reflect on their 3-month long experience. What worked? What didn’t? Did they challenge themselves appropriately? How well did their teams work together? What did they learn about science, or about themselves? It’s a chance to find deeper meaning in their classroom experience, to turn a spotlight on growth, and, maybe, carry forward the pieces that hold the most impact for them.

The adults at school talk about parallel process quite a bit—how student growth mirrors our own, albeit at different levels of complexity. Interestingly, just as I aim to spend more quality time with my own reflections on teaching, I also want to carve out more classroom time for my students’ reflections on learning. So… ha! What do you know? It turns out this entry was about those adorable faces in the pictures after all.