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Pause...and reflect
Casey White

Reflecting is a powerful learning tool; key to original thought.

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey

Adults are living increasingly hurried lives, speeding from one obligation to the next. The events seem to be unrelated happenings- certainly not opportunities for learning. We need to keep moving. We don’t have time to pause. Right? 

Thankfully, life at school is different.

We have made pausing to reflect an academic and social habit. 

We pause and think back on our experiences, relationships, and academic learning in order to construct meaning. Reflection is the practice of giving careful thought and consideration. Fun Statistic: Seventy-two percent of adults claim their best ideas happen in the shower! While we have not installed showers in every classroom, we have created space, protected time, and honed our skills to support students in the practice of reflecting.

Reflection is a developmental process. Our youngest students reflect by noting their observations. They begin to analyze and make connections between experiences. Older students can evaluate or make evidence-supported judgements about their learning. They make recommendations to themselves on how to move their own learning forward. (Also called goal setting.) In the end, students learn how to apply what they know to contexts beyond the original situation. Reflection is a core practice of the ACS experience. It is what smart people do.

Reflection in Action

Student-Led Conferences: What an incredible opportunity for students to share their reflections on what is truly meaningful to them, their personal growth, and the areas they seek to improve. When students move into the driver's seat of their own learning, informing their parents and teachers of their learning goals, a powerful three way partnership is formed. That sounds pretty smart!

All School Meetings: (Every Wednesday from 8:20-9:00 a.m. All are welcome.) The best venue in town to view student learning! Eighth grade students take their turn sharing reflections on the entirety of their experience at Aspen Community School.

8th Grade Panel Presentation and Graduation: (June 5th) Attendance is open to all, required for rising 8th graders and their families. This is a beautiful gathering celebrating accomplishments, sharing gratitude, and looking towards the future.

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Casey's Corner

Supporting student learning- the Hard Easy

The concept of the Hard Easy is simple, infectious, and powerful. The Hard Easy is doing the crucial tasks throughout your day that will make your life exponentially easier. Things like tightening down your ski boots before taking a difficult run, critter-proofing your campsite even though you are tired, or carrying a little extra weight so that you will be prepared for weather changes are examples of the Hard Easy.

This school year, teachers chose a Hard Easy commitment that would lift the level of student learning. These commitments range from keeping a clean classroom, improving lesson closure by using exit tickets, recording student data everyday, to proactive parent communication to name a few. At back to school night, parents committed to their Hard Easy; packing lunches the night before or blocking out time to read or play math games made the list. 

While the concept is simple, the impact is grand. A person who understands the Hard Easy is the type of person you want on your team: personally dialed, not creating disasters, and available to others. As a bonus, this person carries the quiet self respect that comes when you live with daily integrity. 

As we move into the new year, consider recommitting to your Hard Easy. When teachers and parents share a commitment to lift the level of learning by doing the critical tasks that make life exponentially easier, we become the people students want and need on their team. 

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