Why Student Reflection on New Activities is So Important


Field Notes from ASSET at DSST: Green Valley Ranch HS

Providential. This is the best word to describe ASSET’s work with DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School. In the spring of 2015, two educators from DSST: GVR saw Tessa passionately pitch the idea for a school-based program that helped students reduce stress and build resilience. Immediately, the teachers saw how beneficial such a program could be.

This chance meeting stemmed ASSET’s original pilot, which grew from a study skills elective offered to a select few students to all juniors via Brent Modak and Nick Kukucka’s U.S. History classes. Right away, Brent and Nick saw how ASSET tangibly benefitted their students and classroom culture. From a reduction in the number of student redirections to improved academic performance, ASSET’s curriculum left an indelible mark on the class - a mark that other teachers quickly noticed, which resulted in the curriculum growing from 11th grade to all grades and a case study of the curriculum’s impact.

Importance of Student Reflection

The DSST: GVR case study, while proving the positive impact of the curriculum, drove home one point very clearly: opportunities for student reflection when trying new activities is crucial. While students could identify that the ASSET program worked for them, they struggled to articulate which specific tools they liked. Because the original curriculum lacked a reflective debrief at the end of each lesson, the learning didn't always stick. From this insight, Drew Madson, an ASSET teacher, had the idea for an ASSET Student Toolbox Worksheet. The Student Toolbox, now a component of the curriculum, provides students with the opportunity to pause after experiencing a new social & emotional learning tool and reflect on whether that tool helps them regulate their stress. This way, they will remember and apply these tools to their lives outside of the classroom.


About the Author

Tessa Zimmerman grew up experiencing severe anxiety in the classroom. It wasn’t until she received a full scholarship to a private high school that she learned the tools to cope with stress and anxiety. Tessa founded ASSET to bring equity to education and make sure all teachers have the tools to help their students cope with stress and anxiety. She has been recognized by Forbes as a “wildly successful millennial with an untraditional education.” In 2017, Tessa’s first book, I Am Tessa, was published by One Idea Press. As the single and childless member of the team, Tessa enjoys her free time, hot yoga practice, and cooking with friends.


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