Why does reflecting matter to our deeper learning? Because of the way our brain is wired. Our brain is created to go through a cycle: reflect, plan, act and then observe. We then reflect on our observations and this leads us to purposeful planning, more acting, and then observing of these actions as well.
This is the same concept as the DOC concept that Thomas Sterner spoke about in his book The practicing mind. He talks about Doing then Observing and then Correcting. The correcting is simply reflecting on what the action produced and then planning to make whatever small changes or alterations are needed in order to further the goal. All of this stems from the observations. But these observations aren’t much good if we don’t take the time to reflect upon them and then come up with a better plan. All of the observations are meaningless if they do nothing to change the future action.
I love this picture which portrays the cycle beautifully, found on the “Why reflect?” page by Helen Barrett.
The cycle seems so simple and yet it is so profound, and the strangest thing to me is that within education we often move at such a frenetic pace that students have no time for reflection, thus deep learning rarely occurs. As a teacher I am constantly involved in this cycle when planning lessons and assessing my students ability level. As a learner and a student myself I need to apply the same cycle.
Creating an ePortfolio forces oneself to reflect on not only what I have learned but also the best way in which to present it to others. Because I know that someone else will be navigating my site, I give extra thought as to how to set it up, where to place the menu, how many drop down boxes to have, etc…. When I post material on my page that I created myself I comb over it with a fine-tooth comb. Knowing that even strangers might one day be looking at my page creates a deeper sense of responsibility and ownership because this page is not just representing what I learned and what I know but who I am. I give a lot of thought to the background and the pictures, every aspect of the ePortfolio. Just like our clothing speaks to who we are and our personal style says something about the inner person, so the e-portfolio reveals aspects of ourselves through the simplest of things like font choice.
I welcome the reflection aspect of the ePortfolio and I see its rich merits in using it with my student – causing them to reflect and then own what they have learned, explaining it in their own words, then delving into the creative realm which links emotion and all parts of the brain together, and allowing them a deeply personal finished product which will not only showcase their learning but will represent a part of themselves. It’s something they can infuse with their voice, their knowledge, and ultimately be proud of. They will reflect on themselves as well throughout the process, thus assisting my teenage students through this deeply introspective phase of their lives, helping them to see themselves in a healthy way.
Hopefully my ePortfolio will also be something that I can be proud of when I’m finished. Until then I will continue to reflect, plan, act and observe.
Barrett, H., & Richter, J. (n.d.). Why Reflect? – Reflection4Learning. Retrieved January 28, 2017, fromhttps://sites.google.com/site/reflection4learning/why-reflect
Sterner, T. M. (2012). The practicing mind: developing focus and discipline in your life: master any skill or challenge by learning to love the process. Novato, CA: New World Library.