The Value of Reflection

Oct 27 / Sara Cowden-Roe, B.A., M.A., B.Ed., OCT
We all know the importance of learning from past mistakes, but how do we go from thinking of the mistake to learning how to avoid it in the future, especially when it is connected to academic success? The answer is through thoughtful reflection and planning. 

The Ontario curriculum has long held the belief that reflection is important to student growth; in fact, many assessments include a section where students are prompted to reflect on what they did and what they will do differently the next time. These are not time-filler sections, but rather meant to engage a student’s metacognition and bring them more actively into their own learning journey. 

However, for some students reflection and planned action on that reflection does not come easily. It may be difficult for them to find the reason they did not get a good mark on a test even though they studied for it, yet without finding that reason they run the risk of making the same mistake on the next one, or worse, thinking they just ‘aren’t smart enough’. For international students, it might also be that they have never been exposed to this type of reflective activity before as perhaps they come from school systems that follow a more rote style of learning, or they had very prescribed and supervised study schedules. 

Whatever the reason, it is necessary to practice reflection when hoping to succeed academically, especially when you are trying to do so in a new country. For TEMS students, we encourage reflection weekly through video updates that are then shared with their parents. With practice and feedback, students improve their reflection techniques and planning skills. It also helps that they are communicating their ideas to their parents in this organized way, so that even though their parents cannot be in the country with them, they are still involved in the student’s education and life.  An additional step is to seek feedback on reflections and if students are connecting what they have reflected on to what they plan to do next. 
For students to truly be active, forward moving learners they must place value on meaningful reflection. 
Students present their reflections live to TEMS teachers and students for English practice, presentation skills, and feedback from teachers on how to improve.