The Chalk Blog

Professional Learning Series: Reflection

5 FUN Ideas for Getting Your Professional Learners to Reflect

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John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” Mr. Dewey understood the importance of reflection, and we know you do too! For example, after you teach a lesson, you probably analyze, re-analyze, and then reflect on your analysis. But if you are on the fence about reflection, consider the research on adult learning and reflection. 

Transformational Learning is described as a form of adult “…learning that changes the way individuals think about themselves and their world, and that involves a shift of consciousness.” (TEAL, 2011) A key component of Transformational Learning is provision of opportunities for participants to think critically and reflect. Additionally, Self-directed Learning, where adult learners take the initiative in learning, includes important components like self-evaluation of work and reflection. Finally, Experiential Learning, where participants experience the learning vs. memorizing information, ensures learners have a chance to observe situations related to the topic reflectively. 

Hopefully, you are off the fence and agree that reflection is a key component to learning. For this reason, participants in Learners Edge offerings are always asked to consider the impact of new learning and identify how this new learning can be used to positively influence others and improve future professional practice. Each learning opportunity through Learners Edge includes a reflection component and/or an action planning activity to ensure the adult learner is provided the time to process and assess outcomes related to learning. This includes thinking and reporting out on their own individual learning goals and motivations, connection of content to past experiences and knowledge, and assessment of how their new knowledge impacts success, colleagues, students, and other stakeholders. 

While chat rooms, discussion forums, and written essays are excellent practices for encouraging reflection, they aren’t always super fun or engaging. So, we’ve decided to give you five FUN ideas for getting your adult learners to reflect and actually enjoy it. Take a look: 

  1. “It’s Your Thing. Do What You Want to Do!” This reflection activity takes a bit of time and planning, but it allows participants to choose how they want to reflect and share their learning with others. Examples include poetic writings, music, live performances, visual arts (paintings, drawing, collage, etc.), formal presentations, or any type of individually created work. This activity is very motivating and rewarding for both the individual and the group. You will be amazed at the creativity that surfaces! 
  2. “Who Said That?” Quotes are a great way to inspire and direct reflection for participants. A learning facilitator can provide a quote and ask participants to reflect on how the quote relates to their learning OR the facilitator can ask the participants to find a quote that relates to what they learned on the topic and explain their rationale for choosing the quote. This activity could be done in writing, in an online chat room, or during a face-to-face discussion. To increase impact, ask other participants to comment on the quote and peer reflection as well. 
  3. Sketch Reflections Check out this great format for note taking that could easily be adapted to reflection: Sketchnotes! This method mixes writing, drawing, and other visual cues allowing the participant to look at learning from another angle. Doodling in class is no longer a “no-no”! 
  4. Reflection Snowstorm This is an excellent, fun, face-to-face activity where participants are asked to quickly reflect on paper. Then, when prompted, all participants crinkle their paper and toss it. Each participant then takes turns picking up a reflection snowball, reads it, and adds his or her thoughts to the reflection they read. This method is sure to win over children, but we know even adult learners will like this one! 
  5. Show and Tell Similar to the strategy above using quotes, allow your participants to choose an item that represents their learning on a specific topic. Time travel back to kindergarten and have each participant show their item and explain to the group their rationale for choosing it and how it relates to their learning. Encourage others to ask questions to deepen the discussion. 

Richard Larson said, “Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.” We hope these five fun reflection activities for adult learners can be added to your toolkit and increase the success of your learners. 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Professional Learning Model

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