Reflection: Glows and Grows​

Sharpening the Saw

We can all agree that we want students who are growing in their capacity to be self-directed, make better choices, and interact positively with one another. In order to do this, we have to give time for students to reflect and improve. Stephen Covey calls this sharpening the saw:


"Suppose you came upon someone in the woods working to saw down a tree. They are exhausted from working for hours. You suggest they take a break to sharpen the saw. They might reply, "I don't have time to sharpen the saw, I'm busy sawing!"

So many standards to cover. So many behavioral issues to manage. So many interruptions. So much paperwork. Yet, when we do not give time for learners to reflect on how they learn, how they choose, and how they interact with others, we are missing the chance for students to improve themselves and their learning community. Their self-improvement and self-directed muscles atrophy, and then we complain that students make poor decisions and do not take responsibility for their own learning.

Reflection in an Agile Classroom

What if there was an engaging, easy, and interactive way for learners to sharpen their saw? Introducing how Reflections happen in an Agile Classroom. The purpose of the Reflection is to create a space for teachers and students to improve the learning process, enrich classroom relationships, and to better adapt the learning environment to the needs of the classroom. The Reflection can occur at any time that is needed, but, usually happens at the end of each Learning Iteration, as shown in the Learning Rhythm diagram:


The outcome of the Reflection is the insights and action plan to immediately try in the next Learning Iteration. Reflection can focus on the whole classroom, learning teams, and the individual learner.

Glows & Grows Reflection

Agile Classrooms makes reflections highly visual, interactive and engaging with an ever growing set of Reflection Canvases. One of the favorite by teachers is the Glows and Grows Reflection Canvas.


The Glows and Grows Reflection Canvas is divided into 4 quadrants that guide your learners in self-discovery and self-improvement:

1. What Glowed? What did we do well? What strengths did we discover?

2. Where to Grow? Where can we improve? Ideas to make changes?

3. What to Throw? What is not working for us? What do we stop doing? Where are we working from our weaknesses that may be better served by working from our strengths?

4. Now I Know? What did we discover about ourselves and our learning? What did we try this time and what were the results?

Holding the Reflection

For multiple learning styles, I have provided 2 formats to learn how to apply the Reflection Canvas: (1) watch the overview video or (2) read step by step instructions.

Reflection Canvas Video:

The Reflection Step by Step Instructions:

Step 1: Brainstorm

Have students think about the last week for each quadrant. You might want them to think about:

  • The Learning Process

  • Their Actions and Choices

  • Their Relationships

  • Their Learning Environment

Have learners write down one idea per sticky note and place on the appropriate quadr