Enhancing Character Development through Reflective Writing

When I was younger I struggled through school.  During my primary grades, I was part of a pull out schedule for both Reading and Math.  I felt different...unhappy...unintelligent...not good enough.  I knew even from a very young age that I was not like the rest of my friends because they didn't have to leave the classroom for other subjects.  As a result, my self-confidence suffered.  Fortunately, I had a supportive family who never gave up on me.  They hired tutors to help, and continuously encouraged me that my best was always good enough.  So why did I still feel so bad about myself?  Why did I still feel that my friends were more intelligent...more able? 

I realize now it was because aside from my family, there were only a small, select few teachers who were supportive of my education. Those were the teachers who made me feel stronger, and taught me that mistakes are okay...because mistakes are how we LEARN. 

Working in a self-contained school, I find the large majority of our student population have lost all hope in themselves.  When I first began working with my students this past September, I had a child actually walk out of my classroom because I praised that student for a job well done.  These children are coming from many diverse backgrounds and have gone through so many challenges in their short lifetime, that I often find myself looking up to them.  In addition to increasing my students' academic progress, I would argue the most important part of my job is encouraging my students to recognize their own self-worth and provide them with resources to overcome obstacles, both academically and socially.

So, I developed a weekly routine within my classroom called, "Inspirational Quote of the Week".  Every Thursday, I display a motivational quote on the SMARTBoard.  For the first 10 minutes or so, I only display the quote, and the students are allowed to write any feelings they may have about the saying.  This writing is a free-form reflection where students are not judged on the mechanics of their writing.  This lesson is based purely on students learning and feeling what it means to become reflective writers.  How can we jot down our thoughts and express our reactions to events?

After this free-form time, I display prompting questions on the SMARTBoard that I would like the students to answer.  For example, "How can this quote be applied to your learning?"  After another 10 minutes of writing, we gather together as a class to share and discuss our answers.  This offers an opportunity for the kiddos to collaborate with one another and openly share their ideas and feelings.  By creating a reflective writing and speaking forum within our classroom, my students have become more accepting of not only themselves, but each other.  We are able to safely discuss insecurities and challenges we all face but are too insecure or nervous to share.

Since implementing this program, I have seen a great improvement with how my students have started approaching challenges not only academically, but socially as well.  I decided that each week, I will share with my readers the inspirational quote our class used to collaborate and reflect.  I encourage my teaching colleagues to implement a similar program within their classroom.  As educators, we cannot expect every student to love us, but we can provide resources to teach our students to love themselves.

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1 comment

  1. This is a great idea! I love the confidence it gives them… looking forward to trying this in my own room. Welcome to the LA blogs as well :)


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