Daily Reflection: Building Habits for Growth
“Who wants to share an example of taking initiative from this past week?” asks Alexis Viele to her circle of third-grade students.
Hands shoot into the air. “I kept being late for school because I slept too late,” shares one boy, “so I showed initiative by asking my mom to get me my own alarm clock. Now I wake up early and I’ve been on time to school every day this week.”
“At the start of the year, I didn’t have all my materials ready before class,” says another girl. “It was bothering me, and I finally took initiative by talking to Ms. Viele about ideas to help me stay organized. We made a to-do list and taped it to my desk. Now I feel ready to go at the start of each class.”
Lower school students engage in 20 minutes of personal reflection daily. Teachers pose questions related to the school pillars – initiative, integrity, compassion, determination – and students write about how successful they have been at incorporating these concepts into their school routines and home lives. Follow-up prompts help students develop action plans for improvement, and time is regularly taken to acknowledge and celebrate growth.
“Daily reflection encourages students to take ownership of their challenges and successes,” says Ms. Viele. “Instead of me telling them to get organized and prepare for class, they develop these habits at a very young age through thoughtful, ongoing reflection and sharing ideas for improvement with each other. This practice helps them become better students and classmates, but it also helps them build the habits they will need to succeed in high school, college, and beyond.”
Fourth-grade teacher Eunice Lee has seen substantial progress in her students come through daily reflection. “Last year I had one student who struggled with math,” she says. “Through a daily reflection about determination, this student realized she needed to work hard and take the initiative to improve in math. She asked for extra work and sought help when she needed it. This dedication helped her end the year as one of the top math students in her grade.”
Students recognize this progress in themselves as well. “At first, daily reflection was hard for me, because it’s difficult to think about your challenges and how to improve them,” says fourth grader Hudson. “But writing down a plan and talking to my teachers and classmates helps me to improve.”
His classmate Luca agrees. “Daily reflection is important because it helps us set goals for ourselves. Without it we would kind of be lost on what to practice. I think in the future I’ll always pause and reflect on my actions and how to improve. I always want to try to become a better person.”