The Wisdom of Reflection

Posted by Stanley Communications on 5/19/2022 3:00:00 PM

Whether your child ends the year exploring fractions, building bridges, performing The Phantom Tollbooth, or writing poetry, their learning doesn’t end once they finish the show, the coffeehouse, or the test. Here at Stanley, after the culminating event of a unit, it is time to reflect on what they have learned. As the 2021-22 school year comes to an end, it feels fitting to share a few thoughts on the British Primary value of reflection.


At Stanley, reflection happens throughout your child’s day, but especially at the end of a unit, at the end of trimester, and at the end of a school year. As Stanley BPS teachers, we invite students to reflect on what they learned from the unit, not only the content, but also on the process they experienced. We support them to reflect on what they learned about themselves as a learner, and what they will take with them into future learning experiences. We provide opportunities for students to think about where they started and where they ended up, and to remember and review the steps and strategies that helped form new understandings, growth and learning. We believe that even reflection on their false starts or dead-ends is valuable. Reflection helps reinforce habits of mind and dispositions as learners.


An interesting question we might ask our students to reflect on is, “How does this connect with other parts of your life, or other things you’re learning or thinking about?” As Nan Munger, Middle School art teacher describes, “I do final critiques with the eighth grade and reflection forms with all my students. They consider questions like, which of the school’s seven goals for learners have I built most and how? What was I most proud of? What do I want to build going forward? What will be helpful for next year?” We create opportunities for reflection that show the interconnectivity of our world. 


A natural reflection question is “What am I still pondering about this topic? What am I still curious about?” We emphasize with our students that life-long learning means pursuing one topic at various points throughout their lives for many years! As Nan Munger says, “With final projects where it’s open-ended, I’ll push learners to consider things like, ‘What are some things I’ve enjoyed most in this block? What are some things I wish I would have gotten to?’ And that’s often how they figure out what they’re going to do for their final synthesis project.”


While learners might first translate “What did you learn?” into concrete facts, Stanley teachers know that there’s more to learning than facts. Perhaps that’s where questions like, “What does this mean for who I want to be in this world?” come in. As Carolyn Hambidge, founder of Stanley BPS, shares, “Reflecting is important because you get to know yourself more. Each child gets to know themselves. Until they really have a knowledge of who they are and finding out what they love to do and what they are passionate about, that's how wisdom grows. You can’t have wisdom without knowing yourself a bit, and reflecting helps you. So often people do what they’re told in school but don’t reflect. I love how the children here are allowed to reflect on what they’ve done.” 


As Carolyn so beautifully captures, reflection grows wisdom. We can have a lot of life experiences, but until we slow down and reflect, we don’t necessarily develop wisdom. These last days of school will be filled with reflection for your children, many moments for wisdom to grow! They’ll reflect about their learning, about their growth as learners, about themselves as an important part of a community, and about how what they have learned connects to their lives and the world around them. We hope that you, too, will pause and reflect on your child’s and your growth this year. 


We wish you a beautiful summer, full of learning, growth, and joy. We wish you many moments to stop and reflect before we all return in the Fall well-rested and wiser.