Most of us regularly reflect on an informal basis. When you think about your conversations, arguments, actions, plans or disappointments, what you might have done differently, what may happen in the future, and why these events happened the way they did, you are reflecting. The Reflection you will do for service-learning is more directed and focused on the specific events and issues of your service. One of the goals is for you to see the relevance of your service to your classroom and textbook experiences as you come to conclusions about your place in the community. It is hoped that you will grow in your ability to see issues that need work and ways that you can contribute positive solutions to problems.
It is often said that Reflection is the “glue” that connects service and learning together—the bridge between the service and the learning. Reflection is the component that distinguishes service-learning from volunteering. As you serve in the community, you may encounter issues or problems that cause you to question or feel some discomfort with the way you have been thinking. By questioning your beliefs and knowledge, you will be learning on a deeper level. Reflection is meant to assist in this growth and learning process, to encourage thinking that ties school, self and community together.
Reflection is a process that allows you to:
— Think critically about yourself, identity, experiences and perceptions of others.
— Understand the complexity of experience and put it in a larger context.
— Ask “What have I learned about myself, the world, and my place in the world?”
— Explore, understand and question policies, laws, trends, theories.
— Examine attitudes, beliefs, opinions, assumptions, privileges, prejudices, stereotypes and fears.
— Transform this service into further community involvement and broader awareness of issues.
— Improve the quality of community involvement and increase the level of commitment to community.
— Appreciate what you and others are doing to make a difference.
Students often comment that they didn’t necessarily like keeping a journal or doing the required Reflection, but that it was the most important part of their service-learning. The process helped them get clear on what they were experiencing and made it personal. It helps with the internalization process and to see the importance of what’s being learned in the classroom—to put it in a “real world framework” that is sometimes difficult to do in the classroom. So, you may have a “love-hate relationship” with Reflection—it seems to be a common reaction to the process!
Click here for a copy of the Reflection Journal in Word.