Mar 23, 2013

Reflection: Nourishment for a Self-Organizing Classroom

The simple rhythm of the Engagement Cycle provides a natural point for learners to pause , reflect, and improve.  It provides a protected space for Learners (this includes the Teacher as a Learner) to self-improve their teamwork, their learning, and the learning environment. Reflection closes the Engagement Cycle, providing us a frequent feedback to adapt and differentiate learning in the next Cycle. A Self-Improving Classroom, in which insights and actions are evoked from the Learners themselves, is the nourishment needed for Self-Organizing Classroom to thrive.


There is an infinite amount of Reflections you can use. The basic principles of the Self-Organizing Classroom approach for Reflection are:
  • Engage the whole learner: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Consider not only the Cognitive domains, but, the often overlooked are social and emotional domains of the whole classroom.
  • Keep it highly Visual. Make Reflection a vibrant Learning Radiators to stimulate introspection and adaptation.
  • Evoke collaborative discussions among learners, for Auditory and Social learners. 
  • Get them moving, by using sticky notes, rushing the wall, and moving the stickies for a Kinesthetic experience. Provide opportunities for silent brainstorming using sticky notes, so that even the non-vocal students' voices are heard.
  • Reflections are to evoke transformation of the classroom as a learning entity. We want to hear all voices to generate holistic insights and actions.

Reflection Scenario

Here is an example of one Reflection I helped a teacher with.  Follow along with our Learners in this Reflection scenario.

  • Contexts
    • Whole Classroom Reflection - the entire class uses one Reflection Board.
    • Learning Team Reflection - each team has their own Reflection Board.
    • Individual Reflection - learners have their own personal Reflection Board, such as in their notebook or manilla folder. Students spontaneously did this in one 4th grade class on their own, pretty amazing.
  • Tips
    • You can use this every day, not just at the end of the cycle. Keep it short and sweet in this case, just to quickly gauge the engagement and learning and make intuitive adjustments. 
    • Keep the Reflection Board up throughout the Engagement Cycle. Learners can add or remove their post its anytime during the Engagement Cycle. Take the formal Reflection event at the end of their Engagement Cycle to discuss and commit to action in the next Cycle. 
    • Don’t use the same Reflection every Cycle. Switch it up.
  • References - Reflection is inspired by Retrospectives from the Agile framework called Scrum. 
Try this yourself, it is easy, and you will be inspired by your students' insights and commitment to their own success!

John Miller, CSP, PMP

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