Monthly Archives: June 2016

Heavy Lifting of Self-Reflection

June 22, 2016

Angela Stockman, in her article 10 Reflective Questions to Ask at the End of Class, provides several observations about self-reflection, but the one that stuck with me was:

“… reflection helps us advocate for ourselves and support others. Taking the time to reflect enables us to identify what we want, what we need, and what we must do to help ourselves. It also helps us realize how our gifts and strengths might be used in service to others.”

I have held some skepticism around self-reflection, but what I have come to understand is that self-reflection is, for me, where the learning happens.  It’s not a passive activity.  It’s not always comfortable because sometimes it requires me to acknowledge I do not always achieve the result I wanted…but it is in these spaces of discomfort, of contemplation, that I comprehend what I can do differently next time.  I grow.

The article I’ve referenced provides you with some questions you can ask your students which will help to cultivate in them the ability to self-assess through using self-reflection….but are you buying what you’re selling?

Do participate in reflective teaching?  Reflective teaching means, according to Julie Tice, “looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and thinking about if it works – a process of self-observation and self-evaluation.”  There are a number of ways to do it and this easy-to-read article Reflective teaching: Exploring our own classroom practice will provide you with some hints on how to collect informatdont-settleion and what to do with it once you have it.

I know, it feels like this is just one more thing to do in an already busy day…but we need to think about how taking this step will prevent us from becoming complacent and from making the same mistakes, over and over.

Are you willing to settle,  to live with good enough?

I’m not.



Cultivating Curiosity: Critical Thinking in Action

June 15, 2016

What if, instead of remaining entrenched in our own positions and coming out of our respective corners with gloves raised, we cultivated a culture of curiosity, using our collective knowledge to find answers that alone we may not?


I came across an article entitled “Adam Grant v. Brene Brown: Two Truths are Better than One and thought it was one of the best examples of how to use critical thinking in everyday life that I have ever seen.

To give a bit of context, Grant had issues with Brown’s position on authenticity and made his comments public and personal.  The author of the article suggested another way of using their differences as an opportunity to ask some great questions which could result in benefits to both parties (and to society as a whole).

Davey suggests the following conversation take place:

Now, if I’m Brown, I invite Grant to meet up to engage in the authenticity conflict productively. I start the discussion by getting on the same page about definitions, “Here’s where I think we’re on the same page, here’s where my definition of authenticity doesn’t jive with what you were talking about.” Then I ask for his help, “You know the psych research better than I do, what other constructs could we add to get a better transposition of the concept of authenticity?” “When we look at it that way, what other data become available?” Your article presented some compelling facts about the risks of authenticity in some forms and in some circumstances, what advice would you give my readers about when authenticity is advisable or not?”

These are two brilliant individuals who could, if they worked together, provide all of us (and probably each other) with some amazing insights.

Are we so focused on being right that we stop asking the hard questions for fear the answers might change our minds?

Critical Thinking – Why it Matters

June 5, 2016

According to Rheingold (Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity), by the end of 2014, more than 3 billion people will have had access to the internet. (I suspect that number has grown exponentially since. ) The internet has given us access to a wide range of ideas, concepts, information and cultures.  Shirkey, in his talk on social media: How Social Media Can Make History  points out that up to the 20th century, media was either good at creating conversation or at creating groups, but not both.  He added that the internet is the first medium that has native support for groups and conversations.  People can create community without ever meeting one another.  They can create media, consume it, critique it, interact with the media makers and with those who also consume the media.

Unfortunately, because people can post almost anything, regardless of its veracity, it is imperative our students learn how to differentiate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

(Image from

Rheingold says the challenge is  “…few teachers or parents impart to young people the always useful but now essential skills of how to question, investigate, analyze and judge that link they just got in email or the factual claim they just found through a search engine.”

How do we educate our students (and ourselves) so we are able to make accurate assessments of what we read, hear and see?

That’s the subject of my next blog post…