May 16, 2022

Building Learning Muscles- Encourage Reflection

If you have ever broken a bone, or talked with someone soon after a cast is removed, you know building muscle takes time. 

When we ask students to take ownership of their learning it may feel unendurable- however, just as physical therapy is scaffolded for healthy growth- the same can be true for personalized learning.  

Small, intentional moves can be made to grow students’ muscles in taking ownership of their learning. 

Small Steps in Action

Students in Diana Williams’ math class are encouraged to own their learning as she provides space for self reflection.  After engaging in learning activities, students are posed with an opportunity to rate their understanding.

Initially, many students left this space blank.  After being asked why, grunts arose-

FireShot Capture 020 - 2019 Forms of Lines Student Checklist - Google Docs -“Because this is hard.”

With patience, Mrs. Williams responded, “I know.  This is difficult for adults too”

As we seek to provide opportunity for students to own their learning, it is important to empathize with our students.  As teachers, we are flexing new muscles- seeing our role as a “facilitator of meaning making” (Costa & Kallick).  

What could it look like to create opportunity for your students to reflect on their learning?  I would encourage you to try something while knowing students are strengthening new muscles too, “fully engaged in the process of making meaning” (Costa & Kallick).  Through it all, let’s remember why- stronger men and women for their future and ours.

For further reading, take a look at Learning Through Reflection from Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick

Featured Photo Credit: Ben White Photography

Joe Muhlberg

Joe Muhlberg is a Learning Experience Designer at Mason High School.

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