Essential Reflection & Goal Setting

Rae HughartBlog, Lead Better

TL;DR:

  • It is essential that educators reflect and set goals in the same way we ask our students to.
  • Choosing your medium to self-reflect is a necessary step to start your journey of reflecting and goal setting.

A few years ago I became obsessed with student goal setting and reflection. I read every piece of research I could get my hands on and had thousands of conversations. I even took it as far as asking my students to participate in a study with me to determine how we, as a collective group, could make student goal setting and reflection better.

We discussed how to make goal setting and reflection more purposeful and support us in our growth. And we discussed how we could make this an element of our lives that elevated our ability to reach further than we ever imagined.

The result? Well, put simply, after a year-long project with over 150 students, we found one element to be true: Learners reflect better and gain more out of their reflections when it is done in a medium they are truly comfortable with.

It's amazing how far we can come if we just give ourselves a little time to reflect - in a safe space and with the right medium. We can change the world. Click To Tweet

Student Self-Reflection

Common phrases we found ourselves repeating were…

  • Interested in doing a video reflection today? Go for it!
  • In the mood for an audio recording reflection? Make it happen!
  • In a bit of a typing mood? Reflect away using the keys of your Chromebook!

So, we ensured that in our classroom—our safe little community of engaged, passionate learners—we set ourselves up for success by participating in daily goal setting and reflection through a medium of our choice.

Now, you’ve probably heard me speak on this topic a hundred times on Facebook LIVE or on the Teach Better Youtube Channel. I love the program Seesaw for this very reason. Each and every day, students hop on their account which is shared with their stakeholders and me. They click that pretty green circle to add a submission to their profile, and then a prompt is provided to the student to choose their medium.

There are options ranging from video, audio, picture tools, typing, links, & more. Students have continued to find success with goal setting and reflection through the use of this best practice tool for the classroom.

Educator Self-Reflection

But while I was thinking about the “new normal” we are all headed into this fall, I began to question why this choice of reflection medium was left to 11-year-old learners. Shouldn’t we all strive to reflect often and to the best of our ability?

In a typical workday as a classroom teacher, I feel as though I make 1,000 decisions in 1 minute. When I’d walk in my room after greeting students in the hallway, I would decide where to put my eyes first as I scan the room. I would choose my facial expressions. Where to stand. The tone and volume of my voice. I would choose the redirection I’d like to provide. The list goes on and on—and that does not even count the choices I’d have to make based on student needs or what was going on in the classroom.

We make 1,000 choices every moment—and we must reflect on them. And reflect often.

And… just like our students, we must reflect in a medium that best suits our ability to gain as much insight out of the reflection as humanly possible.

Choosing Your Medium for Reflection

I have a few processing partners in my life who I frequently find myself dialing up to process through my day. Some of these colleagues are best to process personal conflicts with, while others are perfect go to’s for classroom roadblocks. Either way, I am best at processing orally. I need to say it. I need to use my hands and change my tone of voice as I share my frustration in an effort to find a solution. And you know what? That’s okay!

Blogging is not my thing. I think quicker than I can type and I find myself spending more time correcting my grammar thnn sharing my message. On the other hand, one of my favorite educators to brainstorm with prefers to share her processing through a blog. She can type quicker than anyone I know and organizes her thoughts beautifully. By the end, she has not only typed up an awesome narrative to share, but has also gone through a deep reflection on her hurdles.

We each have the medium that suits us best.

Sometimes it changes.

When we choose a medium that best suits our style, we end up processing through our days more successfully. And we have a better understanding of how we can reach our learners during our next point of contact.

Do not leave daily goal setting and reflection to only your students this fall. Practice what you preach by forcing yourself to take the time to think, reflect, and set goals every day.

It’s amazing how far we can come if we just give ourselves a little time to reflect—in a safe space and with the right medium. We can change the world.

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Reflection Challenge

Ready for an educator challenge?

Simply reflect on your day. Even if it’s a Saturday morning when you are reading this and you feel like your day has not even started—do a reflection! Even if it’s a Friday afternoon after the longest week of your life—do a reflection! Or, even if you’re reading this on your lunch break on a random Tuesday—do a reflection. Then, share out your experience. You can email me at Rae@TeachBetter.com if you want it to be private, or share it on your favorite social media channel using #TeachBetter. I’d love to hear how it goes!


About Rae Hughart

Rae Hughart is a Middle-Level Math and Writing Educator in Illinois, the Director of Training and Development for the Teach Better Team, and co-author of the Teach Better book. In 2017, Rae was honored with the Illinois State University Outstanding Young Alumni Award – inducting her into the University Hall of Fame. In 2018, Rae was honored again by the Henry Ford Innovator Award for her work within educators communities to build unity between local businesses and schools. Rae is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.