Stage 4 - Reflect

What is one piece of information you have learned so far that you want to remember? What idea sparks a thought or question or something you want to know about? When you answer these questions, you reflect: you look at your experience and determine what it has to do with you.

Do you sometimes press the pause button on a remote control or MP3 player to think about or feel what you’ve just seen or heard? Maybe you consider how you could improve what you do next. Most important is how you look at the world around you from many angles, and learn from your slipups and successes.

Reflection takes place all along the service-learning journey: as you investigate and prepare, as you do the service, following the service, and as you demonstrate what you have learned and accomplished. Remember to take time for reflection all during the process. Reflection can come in many varieties and forms.

Keep a Journal:

Writing helps us to collect and capture our thoughts. You could write three good aspects of what you did that day as you planned or carried out a service-learning idea. Perhaps you write about how a comment you heard made you consider changing your daily habits and actions.

Take Photos:

Did you list photography as a skill or talent? With a camera in hand, take pictures as you go through the stages. Use these to help recall what happened. Add words as you like to compliment the visual.

Discuss or Blog:

Find a pal or group to exchange stories of significant or memorable moments. Or use a blog to initiate a virtual discussion.

A Quote to Inspire:

A Sioux proverb reminds us that, “The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.” Use this to create a piece of art about your “pond” or somehow to tell your story.

Name that Tune:

What song captures the essence of what you are doing or what you have done? Find a piece of music that says it all. Or compose lyrics that capture this occasion and express how you feel or what you have learned. Musicians have long used their medium to communicate a message.

Possibilities and ways to reflect are infinite.  Make time to be thoughtful and reflective—that’s all you need to do. Remember that to get to where you’re going in helping your community you have to know where you have been. Through reflection you build wisdom and ensure that every lesson and insight is valued on this journey.

CITATION: From The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum, & Social Action (Revised & Updated Second Edition) by Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., copyright © 2010. Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; This page may be reproduced for use within an individual school or district. For all other uses,