What Just Happened?

Dr. Matthew Arau • CommentaryJune 2023 • June 12, 2023

Do you ever feel like you have been racing the clock, running on a hamster wheel, and working so hard to get caught up that you never have the time to even think about what you just did an hour ago or even the day before? As the school year ends, you may feel this is the first time in a long time you have been able to pause and just breathe. The summer is the ideal time to reflect on the past school year and to begin thinking about the future you want to create. 

We can be more effective and productive when we take time for daily reflection in our lives. We can also encourage our student leaders to develop habits of reflection. Great leaders make reflection part of their daily growth plan. 

Here are 5 reflection leadership tips I hope you will also share with your student leaders.

1. Ask what went well. Take time to celebrate successes, progress, and achievement. Make a list of positives from the year to remind yourself that even though the year may have felt overwhelming, you and your students came a long way.

2. Ask what could be improved. Reflect on what can be learned from what did not play out as well as planned. Make a list of what you want to change for next year or tomorrow and what you plan on doing differently to get there.

3. Ask what experiences, lessons, people, and opportunities from the past year or yesterday gave you a sense of gratitude. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we notice more things in the present for which we are grateful.

4. Honor the importance of reflection by including time in rehearsal for students to share with each other and with you how they feel about the progress they are making. 

5. Incorporate reflection regularly into the day. Before moving on to the next activity, while your memory is fresh, take a deep breath and reflect on what just happened. Setting aside time to reflect on the day in the evening prior to going to sleep is a great way to make reflection a habit.

When we set an intention to be reflective, it allows us to then be more fully present and aware in the moment so the next time you ask yourself, “What just happened?”, you will know and be ready to grow, learn, and prepare to make your next steps even more effective.


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