Our School Culture of Reflection
Our Culture of Reflection Begins in the Classroom
From kindergarten through eighth grade, our students reflect after projects, field trips, learning new academic skills, or important interactions with others. We ask students to think over what they enjoyed, what they didn't enjoy, what worked, what didn't work. We ask them how would they change the activity next time if they did it again. We use reflection as a tool for learning, helping students synthesize, abstract, and articulate key lessons taught by experience.
Such reflection helps build critical thinking skills and executive function. Sharing reflections with classmates also demonstrates how the feelings and thoughts of others can vary widely, even after the same activity. Reflection time gives kids the chance to hear, respect and have compassion for the experience of others.
In early grades, group reflection skills can apply to assessing and improving either academic work or play activities. By the time students reach middle level, the reflection process often happens organically without need for teachers to initiate it as a formal activity. Students plan and discuss their work as a group, following previously learned group interaction skills that allow each student a chance to contribute.
Applying the Reflection Process as an Organization
TCS also uses reflection to learn and evolve as an organization. We use reflection both informally and formally. Here are our key reflection tools:
For Teachers: Our calendar always leaves room for a reflection day for teachers following the last day of school. We discuss what worked and what didn't over the school year, allowing faculty feedback to help guide us in planning for the next year. Teachers also receive a survey from the board so that they can confidentially give feedback on policies, administration, board decisions, faculty support, or offer suggestions for organizational change.
For Alumni: Every 1-2 years we survey our alumni and their parents to see how they are doing in high school or college. We want to know more about both their academic and social experience in high school. We ask several questions about ways TCS prepared them well and things TCS could have done better.
For Current Families: During the final weeks of each school year, we send a survey to all enrolled families asking questions on what specific aspects of a TCS education were valuable to their child, and where we can improve. We include brief questions that give us quantifiable data that we can compare to other years. We also provide questions that give room for longer answers, so that parents can share specific experiences and suggestions. Each response is carefully reviewed by our administration and board, and key trends are shared with our faculty.