Are you wondering about the first day of school? The school year JUST ended and I’m already wondering what the first day will look like (thanks global pandemic). The anticipation we all feel for the first day is… special. It doesn’t matter if it is your first year or 10th year, virtual or in person (again thanks global pandemic) the first day is always the only first day of the year.

In my classroom I like to establish the routine of reflection on the first day.

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

John Dewey

I want my students to understand, from day one, that we will use each experience to learn from and the way we do that is by reflecting on it.

Let me breakdown what I mean…

What do we reflect on?

Routines– The classroom is MADE of routines. On that first day I am teaching them lots of new routines. How to hang their coat up, walking safely in the room, organizing their supplies, getting in line, and MORE. I don’t expect students to “get” all the new routines on the first attempt. So, I teach the routine, we practice it, and then we reflect. I’ll say things like, “Show me how you think we did with ______.” (Thumbs, 0-5, any silent signal).

Behavior– Kids learn by doing. They do something and then observe the reaction and response they get from those around them. We can teach them the correct behavior by helping them reflect on what they noticed… and by having the appropriate reaction, but that’s another post. 🙂

Feelings– We spend most of our day with our students… and I don’t know about you but I have a LOT of feelings throughout the course of the day. We must remember that each of our young charges also have their own host of feelings! Typically those feelings are only addressed when they cause a problem. I like to create a space where students regularly reflect on their feelings about school work, social interactions, and school in general. This helps me connect with them and build our relationship so I can better meet their needs.

Learning– We use Learning Targets (but you might use objectives or goals) to guide our learning for each lesson. At the start of the lesson we unpack the learning target and at the end we reflect. We will talk way more about this.

Reflecting after Day 1

So, why reflect after day 1? Because we have to show students what we value starting from our first day together. I want students know that I value reflection and will make time for it. I also want to use this reflection to get to know each of them better.

After students complete the reflection we will circle up and share. This is another part of reflection that I prioritize… learning from others’ reflections. In our circle students are allowed to share their reflections, ask questions, and respond to others. I always offer a space to share after reflection. Sometimes students will say it but can’t write it, and some students are verbal processors (ek! that’s me!). And in the end it give us an opportunity to acknowledge each other.

Reflecting on Reflection

Reflection is deep. It is nuanced.

As soon as I make a reflection for students I’m already working on revising it because I’ve reflected on it. Ha! We’re all a work in progress. The best gift we can give our students is the open door to make mistakes, reflect on them and do better next time.

How will you reflect with students?

I always look forward to hearing how you will use these ideas in your school, context, life! Please share your ideas, questions, and feedback in the comments!

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