Incorporating reflection into the classroom

Effective teachers are those who constantly reflect on their teaching. Reflecting after a lesson makes them aware of their successes and failures, of their strengths and weaknesses. This allows teachers to assess and adjust their teaching. Because reflection can help teachers become better educators. This also applies to students. It is important for students to reflect on their learning too! I believe reflection time is the most vital step in student learning.

Why is reflection time so important?

Reflection helps us recognise what and how we have learned and what we need to focus on in the future. Scaffolding reflection in the classroom is helping students to develop and use the skills of peer and self-assessment – reflecting on what they have learned, and self-evaluation – reflecting on how they’ve learned it. Reflection should be about valuing and encouraging student involvement in making judgements about their own or other students learning. If there is only one thing that I teach my students this year, it’s to be reflective on their own learning.

How do students become reflective learners?

Just like anything, being reflective is a learned behaviour. It must be taught! The best way to teach this is to model it. Teachers should be modelling the language to the students and thinking out loud about their thought processes. At the beginning students will be viewers and gradually will become active reflectors with prompting and effective questioning from the teacher. Eventually students will be independently reflecting on their own learning! I treat reflection the same I would reading and writing, using the modelled- shared- interactive- guided- independent as a guide. All students are at different points and need scaffolding accordingly. I know exactly where all of my students are at with reflecting and use appropriate questioning and language to support them in becoming more independent.

Effective reflective tools

There are lots of reflective tools out there, but here are a few of my favourite tools that I use in my classroom.

Thumbs up, Thumbs down

I use this as a quick indication of where my students believe they are with their learning at the moment. I use this at any time throughout my lesson. Before the learning activity (to clarify who needs assistance and who is capable of working independently), during the learning activity ( to reassess if students are on track or if they require assistance) and after the lesson (to give me an indication if something needs to be revisited or followed up).

Traffic Lights

Can use coloured paddle pop sticks or coloured circles.

Red- I need help and am not confident.

Orange- I ok but would like clarification.

Green- I know exactly what I am doing and can work independently.


I use the bus as a scale of how they perceive their own learning. I use the front of the classroom as the driver and the back of the room as the back of the bus.

Driver- I am confident and independent.

Middle- I am a little unsure and need some assistance.

Back- I need a lot of assistance and don’t understand.


Road signs

Stop- I need a lot of assistance and don’t understand.

Speed bump- I am being challenged and need some assistance.

100- I am confident and independent.

Reporters/focus kids

In every lesson I always select 3 reporters. I give them a badge at the beginning of the session and tell them what their role is. They are required to report back the class about their learning and may share something that they are proud of. I find if students know they will be reporting back to the class that they will try their personal best effort and will be thinking about their learning constantly through the lesson (which is the ultimate goal). When it is their time to report, I scaffold them with questioning according to their level of independence with reflecting.

Example questioning-

Can you tell me something new you have learned?

What was the skill you were learning or practicing?

What skills did you already know to complete that task?

What was something you liked about the activity?

What is something you didn’t like?

What was something interesting you found out?

According to the success criteria, do you think you were successful? Why/why not?

What was the most challenging part?

If you could give a tip to the class, what would it be?

If you could do the project/activity differently, what would you do?

Here are some building blocks that I use to help my students with reflection. We are currently focussing on one a week to become familiar with them. They are prompts for students to identify the skills they need to be more reflective.


If you are one of those teachers that skip over reflection time because you ‘don’t have time’, make time. It is so important for student learning. I always make time for reflection, if I don’t I make sure I follow it up in the next session.

“Assessment which is explicitly designed to promote learning is the simple, most

powerful tool we have for both raising standards and empowering lifelong learners.”

(Beyond the Black Box, Assessment Reform Group, 1999)

Hope you found this post useful! Would love to hear what you do in your classroom!


One thought on “Incorporating reflection into the classroom

  1. Pingback: 5 Classroom Techniques That Work « OpenEdToolbox

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