Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Slow Down and Reflect- an Idea Worth Remembering

This month, I have committed to writing every day through the community at Two Writing Teachers. All are welcome to the March Slice of Life Challenge! It's not too late to join in or comment or just read... Many of my posts will be at my personal blog, Just Write, Melanie, but the posts that relate explicitly to learning will be on both blogs. 

We are incredibly fortunate in our district to have Teachers College Staff Developers come and work with us a few times a year. Since I have been in my position of Writing Coordinator, Kate Roberts has worked with our sixth-grade teachers. This year, Maggie Beattie Roberts has taken over this role, and I met her face to face for the first time yesterday. 

I'm going to pause and take a minute to give Twitter a plug. When Maggie walked into the building, I felt like I knew her because I have been in twitterchats and I have tweeted with her back and forth. I have read her blog, and I have tweeted favorite posts (all of them, actually, I think). I would not have believed that I would write this a couple of years ago when I was new on Twitter, but we hugged each other like old friends yesterday morning. If you are debating twitter, if you are on the fence...join. It really is an incredible forum for learning and developing friendships with like-minded people. 

Maggie said so much that inspired me yesterday, but the first share I will offer on this blog is an idea that she shared from Kylene Beers

"We're always so busy moving forward that we don't have a time to reflect."
I think that in context, Kylene was talking about notetaking, but the shared comment from Maggie made me think and reflect on many aspects of teaching and learning. When do we take the time to ask ourselves and our students:

  • What did I learn today?
  • What helped me learn?
  • Why did it matter?
Additionally, when do we take the time to reflecting on the learning that has happened over a longer period of time, both for ourselves as educators and for our students, asking ourselves and our students"

  • How does the work I'm doing now compare to the work I was doing at a different point in my learning path?
  • What knowledge/understandings do I have from past units or experiences that can help me with new challenges?
  • What tools, lessons, or other experiences helped my learning?
  • How can I learn from the other members of my community? 
  • What has been hard or held me back and how can I overcome similar obstacles?
I tried this with a group of third-graders, and the conversation we had amazed me. I will share their reflections tomorrow. 

Happy Slicing,


  1. I love this post! I am also a fervent believer in the power of reflection, but even as a "believer" it is easy to let time just slip by with promises to yourself that you'll get to it later. Thank you for this reminder that no matter the busyness of the day, reflection is time well spent. I look forward to reading your students reflections tomorrow.

  2. I love this post. You hit the nail on the head with reflection. It is critical for a learning community. I appreciate the reminder.

  3. I love this post, Melanie! We too, are so super lucky...we had Kate and Maggie together a two summers ago. But because I jumped in the summer before, I didn't have the chance to work with them. Still...we have TCWRP too! Gary Peterson is a task master, and he comes with his own brand of wisdom. The other day we worked on looking at the many ways kids express their thinking about reading, and we looked for evidence in their journals. This gave me pause to reinvigorate those entries myself once again. I love's the job that gets reinvented and enriched every single day!

  4. Reflection is key to growth. So often, we skim over it or forget it completely. Thanks for reminding us to slow down and take the time to reflect!

  5. I love that you mention that the students need to reflect too. My son's (who is 31) kindergarten teacher made them stop at the end of every day. She called it the million dollar question (because it takes a million dollars to run a school), What did you learn today? What a smart lady to get those kindergarteners to reflect on what they learned and share that with their parents. Can't wait to read about the third graders thought.

  6. How amazing that you have gotten coaching from Kate and Maggie! I agree with your Twitter plug - meeting people for the first time face-to-face after getting to know them on Twitter is so much fun! Great reflection questions - thanks for sharing!

  7. A little bit of envy. Now, I resisted Twitter for the longest time. I don't go there as much as I could or participate in as many chats as I could, but I have made some great connections. I especially love Twitter Love that comes from a Favorite or a ReTweet. Makes me feel famous.
    I am going to copy these questions to use with my students. Sometimes I feel like we are spinning wheels. I may not want to know what they will say.

  8. We do this, Melanie, but I will also grab a few of your questions that may start new ideas for conversation. I do take time to take notes after I have groups, lessons, etc. It helps for planning those 'next' steps. Thanks for putting it all together so nicely!

  9. I try...but Kylene is right, there is always the sense that I can never keep up with the "new learning" that is coming our way from the likes of Kylene, Kate, and Maggie. That makes it hard, sometimes, to be as reflective as I'd like to be...I fear.

  10. Wonderful post - full of essential questions we need to ask - even of ourselves .

  11. For me, reflecting is like eating right. I know I should do it all the time, and I do it some of the time, but not often enough. Thank you for reminding me of the importance not just for myself, but for my colleagues and students. The questions are helpful, too!

  12. Thank you for sharing this message. So helpful!