Goal: Reflection vs. Reaction

Part of the Goals 2010 Challenge Series, Goal 27

Reflection…

looking deeply at ourselves
meditating on mistakes
contemplating lessons we were taught
deciding our next steps

Versus

Reaction…

acting on emotion
regretting our decisions
making mistakes
paying the consequences

When I first started on social media I made the mistake of reacting to what I felt was an unjust situation. I paid hefty consequences. I knew I could have responded differently to the situation. We have all been there where our emotions get the best of us. However, reaction comes with consequences. For our students this can be deadly. For five students I knew, their reactions cost them their lives. Therefore, I think reflection is a great lesson we should teach students, but this seems to be missing from the curriculum. We need character education. Students need to be able to reflect on their choices and picture the consequences. They need to be able to see the possible outcomes of their decisions. Many emotions and hormones roar through our students that they often react to their emotions. I still struggle with this sometimes, but I know how to calm myself down. I know to channel the energy into something more productive like going for a walk or run. How about our students? Have they really been taught to reflect?

My goal is to help my students learn to reflect versus react. Today, I want to know how you think we can do this?

Challenge:

Help your students learn to reflect versus react.

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This is goal 27 of this series! If you’d like to join the challenge, please read this post with more details!

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How do we teach students to reflect?

Images courtesy of Pinksherbet (D Sharon Pruitt) / CC BY 2.0


Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

12 comments

  1. Nice delineation of the difference between reflection versus reaction. This is not easily accomplished, but with blogging students can get there. Take the emotion out of the response, deal with facts and cause and effect. It thinking with higher order thinking skills that’s needed here. And it’s well worth our time to teach this.

    • Sam Walker,

      I like blogging as a form of reflection. I used journaling for several years but I imagine the trees would be much happier if students blogged. Moreover, they can match their thoughts with images, music, video, Glogsters, and many more multimedia items. Plus, this helps them reflect off their peers and makes this an extended conversation.

  2. Thank you Shelly, for once again raising an important question. It’s so easy to get caught up in the curriculum and standards that we must teach, that we don’t create opportunities for this conversation. We can plan “character education” lessons and use writing, blogging, cartooning to compare different outcomes or scenarios of when individuals reflect before acting. I think kids need to walk through the entire process and compare the outcomes of when they “reflected” before acting vs. “reacted”. We can use literature to explore characters who have had such challenges and move on to using kids’ own experiences. When we ask kids to delve in and think about their own successes when reflecting and unfavorable outcomes when reacting, we give them a chance to come to conclusions that they own and truly believe. With all of the great tools out there, why not challenge kids to create projects where they showcase the ways they can stop and reflect, and the benefits of such reflection. We need to reach kids at a personal level by sharing stories of the impact of reflecting vs. reacting and encouraging them to share their own stories. With so many creative tools out there and the power of sharing stories through social media, it’s a great time for kids find their expressive voices. Thanks 🙂

    • Joan,

      I agree that literature is definitely a way of reflecting. Our students can learn quite a bit from the characters in books. They can reflect on the character’s mistakes and use them as guidelines for making their own choices.

  3. You’re right, Shelly! Our students aren’t taught how to reflect before taking decisions.
    As a teacher of English, I’ve noticed how useful discussion points are for students to speak their minds and that’s a great possibility, for us, as adults to make them meditate about their lives. Many times, my classes become a psychologist session. I’m not a psychologist but I listen to my students and do my best to give them sound advice.
    Marisa

    • Marisa,

      You brought up such a great point about how we must listen to our students. That is definitely one of the most important part of character education is listening to students as they share their experiences with some of the toughest decisions they will make.

  4. Shelly,
    I would love to hear other educators ideas on exactly how they work on the art of reflection vs. reaction in their classrooms. This is a very timely topic as we have had several suicides in our community in the past month. Students that we have taught, friends, and family members. It is an important lesson and one that can’t be overlooked!

    • Kelly,

      Thanks for sharing this. It is so important to reflect because these tragedies impact the school community for a long time. My heart goes out to your school community. The students I mentioned above made bad choices like playing Russian Roulette with a gun, trying to outrun trains, and driving with drunk drivers. If we can teach students to reflect, perhaps it will become a reflex or instinctual.

  5. Ms. Shelly Terrell,

    I think this is a great challenge for most people. It is extremely important to reflect on things that we have done, and also how we react to certain situations. I always try to come up with reasons why I reacted in the way I did. I try to control myself so I won’t react out of anger or whatever my mood may be. Thank you for distinguishing between reaction and reflection. I also think blogging is a great way to reflect on ourselves. We can express ourselves and later look back on our emotions. I am sorry to hear about your five students. Thank you for you challenges, and I hope you use all your advice when I become a teacher.

    • Hello Jamie Lynn,

      I completely agree, blogging is one of the best ways to reflect. I wish all teachers would blog because teachers learn so much about their core beliefs in how people learn and how we teach. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

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