We all know the story of the evil queen who looks into a mirror each day and asks the question, “Who’s the fairest of them all?” For years she heard what she wanted to hear, but once her stepdaughter became a young woman, the mirror revealed that it was Snow White who was the fairest—and not her.
We all know she didn’t take this well, but what if she had been better developed in the art of self-reflection?
When she looked into the mirror and saw her reflection, she relied on the mirror to say what it saw rather than allowing herself to discover what she observed when she gazed upon her own reflection.
How often does this happen with our students—your children? Do they look to us—like the mirror—to tell them what we see . . . what we value—in their work or activities? Roberta Camp, the author of Portfolios in the Writing Classroom says, “We have traditionally told students what we see and what we value—very often at precisely the point in their learning where they should be discovering what they see and what they value” (Martin-Kniep, Becoming a Better Teacher, 2000).
When we encourage students to reflect on their own progress and growth as a learner, we are developing learners who . . .
- Are aware of the strategies they can use to learn and they understand when, how, and why these strategies operate.
- Monitor their own performance and evaluate their progress against specific criteria.
- Recognize improvement and identify strategies for dealing with challenging situations.
- Know how to choose appropriate goals, develop and implement reasonable plans, and make appropriate adjustments if unforeseen circumstances occur.
- Are strategic.
(Adapted from Chapter 7 of the book Becoming a Better Teacher by Giselle O. Martin-Kniep, 2000)
The following link is to a site where a parent/educator shares her reflections on the power of self-reflection for her children and the need to set both short and long-term goals. She also recognizes how the ability to self-assess/self-reflect is an incredible life skill.
Together, as parents and educators, let’s help our students see who they are as learners, what they value as learners, and serve as guides in helping them ALL achieve their goals.