Spin the Reflection Wheel; A Simple New Tool for Reflecting on the School Year
If your family is like my own, you are in the final flurry of school days. Your flurry may involve art shows, concerts, field days and celebration picnics. If you have older students, they may be chin-deep in final projects, exams, and presentations. And you might be working hard on teacher cards and gifts of appreciation along with volunteering for these final celebratory events.
But soon, our students will say goodbye to their teachers, their classmates, and their studies and dive into the freedom and glory of summer days with all the promise of joyful play that the sunshine allows. There is however a transition that takes place moving from a very structured, very focused, very goal-oriented school year to the less-structured or differently-structured routines of family life. Families often don’t get to participate in these end-of-the-school-year rituals that assist students in that transition yet we want to be a part of it. And in fact, our support of the transition can ensure that, when home together more, we get along smoothly, that we can cooperate on co-creating summer rules and routines, and we move into this next season with hope and a sense of support and teamwork.
So if you are wondering how you might support this transition at home, here’s a simple tool to introduce at the dinner table or wherever you gather to reflect on this important year of learning for your child or teen and your family that is coming to a close.
Spin the wheel of reflection on this past school year. Take a moment to answer a few questions at a time when you are together and recall the major influences – people, places and events – that shaped your learning this school year. For us as parents – the school year/work year is always a learning opportunity too. Whether you respond as a parent partner to your child’s school, a parent volunteer, or a parent support at home or as a professional, be sure you take your own turn and answer the questions for you.
- Who had the biggest impact on your learning? Tell a story about how they supported you.
- Who did you learn the most about? How did your view of them change over the course of the year? What do you appreciate about them now?
- Who did you learn about in class that impacted you? What did you learn from them?
- What did you learn that changed you or had a major impact on your perspective?
- What did you learn about how you like to learn or prefer to learn?
- What new idea or fact did you learn that you are excited to continue to learn more about?
- What are you grateful for from this past school year?
- When, during the school year, did you feel the best, most empowered and inspired? What can you learn from that?
- When did you feel the most anxious, insecure, nervous? What can you learn from that?
- When did you feel bored or disengaged? What can you learn from that?
- When did you feel excited and challenged? When did you feel frustrated and challenged? What was the difference?
- Where did you experience the most significant learning this year? Why do you think that was the case?
- Where did you feel safest and at your best? Why?
- Where did you feel unsafe or scared or uncertain? What can you learn from that?
- Why was this school year important to you?
- Why did you choose the friends you choose this year?
- Why do you love (insert what you love… your school, your classmates, your friend, your teacher, your favorite subject)?
- How did you learn best this year (what conditions, people, supports, ways of learning)?
- How did you show your kindness to others this year? How did others show kindness to you?
- How did you deal with your toughest assignments, tests, or projects? Did it work?
Print out this version of the Reflection Spinning Wheel. And here are the printable questions. If you are so inspired, cut out the circle and place it on a cardboard backing. Use a pushpin in the center to anchor the circle but allow for the wheel to spin. Make an arrow on the cardboard backing to signify where the pointer will go and what question to land on. You need not tackle every question. You may take a few spins in one sitting and really savor the stories that emerge from the asking. Perfect for teachers to use too!
Classic educational philosopher John Dewey said, “we don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” Allow your whole family to do some valuable reflecting together on this past school year – the significant relationships cultivated, the knowledge acquired, the shaping experiences. Promote the higher order thinking skill of meta-cognition or thinking about their thinking so that your children begin to learn more about the ways in which they learn best. These are fundamental lessons that will serve them well through their school career and follow them well beyond into their lifelong learning future!
Happy final school days!
If you use this tool, let us know how it goes!
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