I ask my students about watching game film on Friday – why? What’s the point? Is the point to gloat over a win, or to be condemned and criticized for failure? Or do we watch game film to celebrate hard work, identify mistakes, and learn from those successes and failures?
Unfortunately, most student athletes have had the fixed mindset experience of being condemned and criticized for failure. Many have heard the gloating after a win. I believe nearly all athletes intuitively know that kind of behavior is wrong. All athletes want feedback – what did I do well, and what can I do to get better? Fortunately, most student athletes have the good fortune at some point to play for a coach that supports their efforts and encourages their growth. They love those coaches and will walk through broken glass to please them.
What do we do in our classrooms? Do we ever “watch game film?” Do we ever look at our performance during the week? This is the question I asked my students on Friday. Some looked at me as if I was mental. Some cut their eyes at me from the side and wondered what I was up to now.
I told the students that far too often we look at our performance in school like the fixed mindset coach. Students do their work (play the game) and we evaluate their performance. Some win (pass), some lose (fail). The ones that win wave their tests in the air gloating over their win while being praised for their good grades. The ones that lose are told to suck it up and work harder. They FEEL condemned and criticized. Like the athletes, students intuitively know that kind of behavior is wrong. Like the athletes, they want feedback – what did I do well, and what can I do to get better?
This is how I introduced the idea of reflective writing this week. I told the students their reflection was the academic version of watching game film. I wanted them to learn to evaluate their own performance during the week. They needed to ask themselves, “What was the goal this week? What was I supposed to learn?” They need to recognize their own efforts and have satisfaction in their work. They also need to take ownership of their mistakes and gaps in learning. They need to make a “game plan” for how to move forward and improve in the week ahead.
I told the students that in a flipped classroom I’m more like a coach. I can guide them, but I can’t play the game for them. I can’t open the tops of their heads and pour in an education. Like athletes, they have to do the work. Like a coach, I will support and encourage them. I will show them new techniques and make them practice to become mentally fit. When they get stuck I’ll help them.
I want them to understand that LEARNING is an ongoing process. We are beginning a process together that will last for 180 days. Too often students get to Friday wanting to put the week behind them and forget the experience as soon as possible. Instead of trying to forget on Fridays I want them to remember and reflect. I want them to know that I’m going to give them feedback – I will acknowledge their efforts and help them to get better next week.
I think this analogy made sense to the students. I think they gained a better understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. I told them it would take time to get the hang of things – I’m asking them to do something they have never done before. I reassured them I would be patient and we would figure it out together.
What they don’t know:
I am very excited about a development that happened on Friday. I am good friends with one of the algebra II teachers – she’s an incredible teacher and naturally uses growth mindset language. I was talking to her about reflective writing and she commented that she would like to do it also. My brain went – KACHING!
I suggested that since we both share the same students, we should have them write in both classes. They could alternate writing about algebra and physics on the same blog. We could encourage them to look for connections between the content areas. We would be able to promote reflection and understanding in both classes.
I am super excited about the possibilities.