July is the hottest month of the year, and a time for students to enjoy a long summer holiday. Just as it connects June and August, July transitions us between the old and new academic years. As we travel, relax and think about the new school year ahead, we also have an opportunity to think back on the year we have just completed, a time for reflection. June concluded the 2014-2015 school year at BIBS and was the last month for the BIBS IB Learner Profile, in which the key attribute was ‘reflective’ – where students give thoughtful consideration to their learning experiences. Here we take some time to reflect on our learning, so as to better prepare for a new school year in August.
IB Learner Profile Exploration Session 10: Reflective
As the tenth IB Learner Profile attribute, and from the IB perspective, being ‘reflective’ requires students to give thoughtful consideration to their learning experiences. That is to say, thoughtfully consider the world, our ideas, experiences and work so that we can better understand our strengths and weaknesses, and thus support further learning and personal development.
At the beginning of June, Ms. Silvia Venegas, who runs the BIBS IB Learner Profile series made a presentation on being ‘reflective’ during the MS/HS assembly, using a PowerPoint and several vivid videos to better explain the term. The most impressive video depicted self-reflection by wild animals, showing a big mirror in a forest attracting the interest of different animals. As they looked into the mirror, some stood, some sat, some made postures. Some were astonished, some were scared, some were suspicious. Ms. Venegas suggested this is a metaphor for human reflection. Through reflection, people can consider their lives and make changes.
Just like adjusting your clothes in the mirror, reflecting upon our learning journeys, indeed upon our lives, can guide us and modify our thoughts and behaviors. Reflection gives us opportunities to take advantages of our strengths and work on our weaknesses, thus setting new goals to better prepare for the future. American author Margaret J. Wheatley once said: “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences and failing to achieve anything useful.” For students, reflection is an integral part of learning. At the end of a term or at the end of a school year, by looking back on our learning, thoughts and behavior, evaluating and analyzing academic reports, school events and the activities in which we have participated, we recognize our achievements and areas for growth. From there, we can make goals for the next term or the next school year.
During the holidays, we invite parents to take time and work with your children to reflect:
How can I be reflective (personally)?
- Think about all the things you did this year.
- Think about what went wrong
- Think about what went right
- Reflect on how I can be a better person next year.
How can I be reflective (academically)?
- Think about what you have done this school year.
- What did you accomplish?
- Were there any downsides?
- Reflect on what can you do next year to make it better.
Actually, “looking into one’s mirror” should be a daily practice. The ancient Chinese philosopher Zengzi once said “I reflect three times a day” (meaning to reflect often). “Did I do my best when working for others? Was I honest with my friends? Did I review my teacher’s lessons?” Becoming ‘reflective’ is a goal of an IB education, as, through ‘reflection’, we develop positive habits for life. For students, reflection is a key for growth; without reflection, a student can’t truly grow. Whether you are a young student or an adult ‘student’ who has already joined society at large, we can all benefit from being reflective. Indeed, the more you reflect, the more you benefit.