Posted in: Aha! Blog > Wit & Wisdom Blog > Assessments Literacy Scaffolding Professional Development Implementation Support > Reflecting on Wit & Wisdom® Implementation

THIS MONTH’S FOCUS

“Few people can learn in a vacuum—all but the most solitary creatures among us crave reflection and feedback on our work. … Without regular opportunities for teachers to reflect and receive feedback, their practice can plateau.”
(Short and Hirsh, 2020)

Deep and meaningful reflection is a critical aspect of teacher practice. To successfully implement rigorous, high-quality instructional materials like Wit & Wisdom, teachers must reflect on their own performance and on that of students. Explicitly analyzing what they themselves have done well, where students have grown, and where students can improve allows teachers to make informed decisions about instruction.

While reflection can and should be ongoing, the end of the year presents a natural opportunity for extended strategic reflection. Taking advantage of this opportunity allows teachers to grow in their practice and maximize the benefits of teaching Wit & Wisdom. 

STEPS FOR REFLECTION
Consider following these steps to make the most of your end-of-year reflections.

Decide on a focus. Take an analytical approach to reflection by deciding which area of practice to reflect on and then making a plan. Without pinpointing areas of focus or planning how to reflect, it is easy to become overwhelmed or to engage in only superficial analysis. Focusing on a few key implementation areas and planning for a thoughtful analysis of those ensures that meaningful results and plans arise from the reflection.

Some areas Wit & Wisdom teachers find productive to reflect on include the following: 

  • Knowledge building 
  • Inquiry 
  • Complex texts 
  • Reading 
  • Writing 
  • Speaking and listening 
  • Vocabulary 
  • Style and conventions 
  • Fluency 
  • Assessment 
  • Module and lesson preparation 
  • Instructional approaches and pedagogy 
  • Productive struggle 
  • Classroom community 
  • Family engagement 

Tie reflections to goals. Reflection is most effective when it occurs within a cycle in which teachers (1) set goals, (2) plan for how to gather evidence and feedback on progress(3implement the curriculum, (4reflect on implementation, and (5) revise or write new goals based on evidence and reflection.  

If you, your team, or your school set goals for Wit & Wisdom implementation, begin with these as reflection priorities. 

If you did not establish explicit goals, revisit the reasons for adopting Wit & WisdomWhat were your hopes for the curriculumPrioritize areas for reflection based on your personal, school, or district reasons for adoption to ensure a focused plan for growth

When defining your goals, remember that less is more. Too many goals can be overwhelming or less meaningful. Prioritize. Three meaningful goals are more conducive for achieving your gains than a dozen.

 Focus on successes and areas for growth. Questions like these (available here as a printable PDF) can guide reflection on your students or your performance in your area(s) of focus:

Focus Area 

Questions for Reflection 

Knowledge Building 

  • What growth did I observe in students’ knowledge? 
  • What did I observe, or what evidence did I collect on students’ increased knowledge of the module topics? 
  • How did I build my own knowledge of module topics and how did my knowledge influence students’ knowledge?
  • How did I generate enthusiasm and engagement for module topics and how did my engagement influence students?
  • What did I do to support students’ knowledge building?
  • What improvements might I make to better support students’ knowledge building?

Inquiry 

  • How did I use the curriculum’s questions—the Essential Questions, Focusing Questions, Content Framing Questions, and Craft Questions—to engage students and provide a roadmap for learning? 
  • How might I more effectively use the curriculum’s  questions?
  • What skills of evaluating sources and textual evidence did students gainHow do I know?
  • What approaches might I keep, stop, or start to help students better select relevant textual evidence and choose valid, reliable sources? 

Complex Texts 

  • Did all students read the modules’ complex texts? 
    • If so, how did I support their reading? How did I decide when to provide and when to remove supports? 
    • If not, what was the effect on their learning of grade-level knowledge and skills? 
  • What might I adjust to ensure all students read the modules’ complex texts? 

Reading 

  • What growth did I observe in students’ reading? 
  • How did the Content Stages guide students’ reading? 
  • Which Content Stages do I feel most comfortable teaching and why? 
  • Which Content Stages do I feel least comfortable teaching and why?  
  • What areas of the Content Stages were challenging for students or me and how might I address those challenges? 
  • What improvements might I make to my reading instruction?

Writing 

  • What growth did I observe in students’ writing? 
  • Which of the Craft Stages do I feel most comfortable teaching and why? 
  • Which of the Craft Stages do I feel least comfortable teaching and why? 
  • What writing skills do I feel most comfortable modeling and teaching? Why? 
  • Which writing skills do I feel least comfortable modeling and teaching? Why? 
  • Which approaches to writing instruction (e.g., analyzing text exemplars, using writing models, drafting with graphic organizers) were most effective with students?
  • What improvements might I make to my writing instruction? 

Speaking and Listening 

  • What growth did I observe in students’ speaking and listening? 
  • What went well with speaking and listening instruction? 
  • What improvements might I make to speaking and listening instruction? 
  • What might I keep, stop, or start to engage students productively in student-led Socratic Seminars? 

Vocabulary 

  • What growth did I observe in students’ vocabulary acquisition?  
  • What vocabulary acquisition strategies did students gain?  
  • What vocabulary learning skills might be a focus for future instruction? 
  • How well did I incorporate both implicit and explicit word learning in instruction? 
  • Did teach Deep DivesIf not, how might I make time for that instruction? 
  • What approaches to vocabulary instruction will I keep, stop, or start?

Style and Conventions 

  • What growth did I observe in students’ use of language conventions? 
  • Did I teach Deep DivesIf not, how might I make time for that instruction? 
  • What went well with style and conventions instruction and how do I know this was successful
  • What improvements might I make to style and conventions instruction? 

Fluency 

  • What growth did I observe in students’  fluency? 
  • Which students seemed to benefit most from fluency instruction? 
  • What went well with fluency instruction and how do I know?  
  • What approaches seemed most effective in improving students’ fluency? 
  • What improvements might I make to fluency instruction?
  • How might I engage families more in supporting fluency skill acquisition? 

Assessment 

  • Did I adequately test-drive assessments, writing my own responses to better understand the expectations for students’ knowledge and skills?
    • If so, how did this support instruction?  
    • If not, how might doing so support instruction next year? 
  • How did I use the daily Checks for Understanding to monitor student progress
  • What improvements might I make to assessment usage? 
  • What went well in terms of my feedback to students? Whamight I improve

Module and Lesson Preparation 

  • Did I use the Wit & Wisdom preparation protocols to prepare for modules, arcs, and lessons?
    • If so, what went well in terms of preparation? What could go better? How? 
    • If not, how did my preparation support my teaching and students’ learningHow might the protocols improve my preparation? 

Instructional Approaches and Pedagogy 

  • Which instructional routines and processes were particularly effective or engaging to students? How do I know?  
  • When were transitions the most seamless and effective? When were transitions frustrating or challenging?
  • What steps might I take to replicate successes and avoid challenges with transitions? 
  • When were students most engaged?  
  • When were students least engaged?  
  • What might I replicate or adjust (in terms of pacing, routines, groupings, or scaffolds) to support engagement?  
  • Which physical materials or elements of classroom or digital set up were particularly effective? Which were less effective?

Productive Struggle 

  • In what ways did I allow students to do the heavy lifting?
  • What scaffolds or supports were effective and maintained rigor? 
  • Which scaffolds were less successful or took away opportunities for productive struggle?  

Classroom Community 

  • What did I do that helped to build relationship with students?
  • What else might I do to build relationships? 
  • What did I do that helped to build students’ relationships with each other?  
  • What else might I do to help build students’ relationships with each other? 
  • In what ways did I foster a safe learning community? How comfortable did students feel sharing ideas and taking risks in the classroom?  
  • What steps did I take to foster social-emotional learning
  • What additional steps might I take to foster social-emotional learning

Family Engagement 

  • What did I do to connect with families and engage them in students’ learning?  
  • What else might I do to connect with families and engage them in students’ learning? 
  • What resources or approaches might make families stronger learning partners? 

General 

  • What accomplishments did my students or I make this year that I am proud of? 
  • What were my students’ favorite parts of Wit & Wisdom? How do I know? 
  • What were my students’ least favorite parts of Wit & WisdomHow do I know? 
  • What went well that I plan to continue?  
  • What would I like to improve or change next year? How will I make these adjustments and how will they affect students?  
  • Looking at my class list
    • Which students made the most gains?  
    • Which students faced challenges?  
    • What moves might I make to reach all students? 
  • How effective were my collaborations with colleagues for planning, preparation, implementation, or reflection?  
  • What might I or we do in the future to enhance the power of collaboration? 

 

When reflecting, avoid the traps of thinking only of successes or only of challenges

Celebrate the successes of your implementation! Analyze what actions led to each success so you can repeat and strengthen next year. Avoid complacency. Take a hard look at areas to enhance further 

Avoid being overly critical because doing so can leave you feeling defeated and undermine your efforts. After brainstorming possible improvements, prioritize and then engage in a disciplined effort to identify elements of these areas that went well. 

Base reflections on evidence. Evidence is the key to accurate reflection. Given how many decisions teachers make and how many actions they take in any given day, reflecting based on memory can be difficult, if not impossible. For each focus area, consider what evidence might be helpful. See the following for a few examples: 

  • As one aspect of reflecting on writing performance, collect students’ beginning of the year and end of the year writing samplesMaintain a portfolio-style folder for each student to collect evidence of growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Use your grade-level rubric to analyze areas in which most students grew and in which most did not. Then explore what might have led to these differing results. 
  • To reflect on how you support students in building knowledge or understanding complex texts, videotape or have a colleague observe and document your facilitation of discussionsConsider what questions you ask, how much wait time you provide, how you respond to student statements, and how you facilitate student-to-student talk. While videotaping and watching yourself at work can be dauntingthe experience can offer you unique insights 
  • Work with a colleague to reflect on your lesson preparation, looking back with a critical eye at module, Focusing Question arc, and lesson plans and analyses. 

Also, consider inviting observations and feedback from others, such as special area teachers who work alongside you, school administrators, families, and the students themselves. Some Wit & Wisdom teachers have found it useful to ask students for quick, informal feedback about an instructional routine that helped them learn or a piece of knowledge that struck them from the lesson.  

Collaborate with colleagues. Reflecting with colleagues leads to deeper and often more accurate reflection. Colleagues can help with many key aspects of the reflection process, such as identifying areas of focus, collecting evidence, analyzing what that evidence may mean, and identifying the next steps in implementation. In school cultures that foster critical collaborative reflection, colleagues can help us move past our blind spots by questioning our assumptions, asking challenging questions, and casting situations in a different light. 

TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE REFLECTION
  • Be realistic.This year presented unique challenges that may have made full or ideal implementation difficult to attain. As you reflect, be careful not to spend too much time worrying about events beyond your control. Focus on successes and challenges and what was reasonable to accomplish
  • Maintain a growth mindset. As essential as it is to improving one’s practices, reflecting can also raise challenging emotions. It can be difficult to recognize that some aspect of your work was not as effective for students as you would like. Honor those feelings and allow them to provide the motivation needed for change, but do not let those emotions diminish feelings of efficacy or self-worth. Envision future successes and map steps to achieve them. Remember, when you know better, you do better.  
  • Set up systems and processes to ensure ongoing reflection. Document your reflections so you can return to them in the future. Plan to revisit these reflections, build on them, or compare your observations and conclusions this year to what you observe and postulate about next year. To help ensure that reflection becomes a regular part of your practice, consider how to build in systems and processes to make it easier
    • Schedule and prioritize regular times for reflection. 
    • Create a print or electronic reflection journal to track reflections over time. 
    • Plan for tools and data to support future reflection, such as collecting student work samples, videotaping lessons, or planning for colleague observations.
CONCLUSION 

Reflection is key, especially in a challenging year like this. Take time to reflect, moving past the distractions and aspects you could not control to the essential elements of your students’ and your experience in the classroom. Doing so will make you a better teacher of Wit & Wisdom and sharpen your skills to analyze and improve your general teaching practice. 

Encouraging educators to adopt the habit of reflection, Costa and Kallick (2000) offer this reassuring reminder: in reflection, there is no such thing as failure—only the production of personal insights from one’s experiences.Happy spring! 

RESOURCES ON REFLECTION  
Costa, Arthur L., and Bena Kallick, Getting into the Habit of Reflection.Educational Leadership, vol. 57, no. 7, 2000, http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr00/vol57/num07/Getting-into-the-Habit-of-Reflection.aspx. 

Hall, Pete and Alisa SimeralStop, Practice, Collaborate: The Cycle of Reflective Teaching.Teachthought.com, www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/the-cycle-of-reflective-teaching/

Hole, Simon, and Grace Hall McEntee. Reflection Is the Heart of Practice.Educational Leadership, vol. 56, no. 8, 1999, www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may99/vol56/num08/Reflection-Is-at-the-Heart-of-Practice.aspx 

Short, Jim, and Stephanie Hirsh. The Elements: Transforming Teaching through Curriculum-Based Professional Learning. Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2020, http://witeng.link/0977. 

RESOURCES FOR WIT & WISDOM 
These Great Minds resources may deepen your thinking in your focus areas of reflection. 

 

Topics: Assessments Literacy Scaffolding Professional Development Implementation Support