How Teachers and Students Can Use Solitude and Reflection to Achieve Personal Greatness

Using solitude and reflection to become "one percent better" each day.

How Teachers and Students Can Use Solitude and Reflection to Achieve Personal Greatness
Photo by Toni Reed / Unsplash

We recently had our annual staff retreat at Winman Trails in Winchester, Wisconsin. These retreats set the tone for the year and provide an opportunity to reconnect with staff.

This year some staff members were asked to create presentations that connected to "personal greatness". The topics were wide open. The vision statement for our school is, that AV-W is committed to empowering each student to make a positive difference and achieve personal greatness. -AV-W Vision Statement

I chose to share how solitude and reflection have become a bigger part of my life and share how I encourage solitude and reflection with my 8th graders.

Most of us who presented felt awkward about sharing "personal greatness". Instead, I framed solitude and reflection as something I practice to that makes me "one percent better" each day.

Below you will find some excerpts from the document I shared with the staff and at the end of this post, you'll find the actual document. A SOLO is simply time spent in quiet reflection. What happens during a SOLO is different for everyone.


A fundamental education component suggests that learning is significantly enhanced by reflecting on experience. Solitude provides an environment conducive to such reflection.

Solitude and Reflection Design Principle

Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need to exchange their reflections with other students and with adults.

Educational Objectives of the Solo:

I can reflect on life, my education, leadership, core values, goals, and HOS, (Habits of Scholarship) while taking a physical rest and tuning into my world (relationships with oneself, others, and nature.

What to do during your Solo (while maintaining silence):

  • List 5 things about yourself that you like. List 5 things about yourself that you would like to change.
  • Record your “Homework for Life”.
  • Reflect on successes and failures
  • How can I improve my habits of scholarship?
  • What am I most proud of?
  • Name one person in your life that you admire and why.
  • What are our crew’s greatest strengths and most significant areas for growth?
  • Describe the leadership qualities that you have observed in yourself and others in our crew and make recommendations for areas of improvement.
  • List one or more things you would like to change about your role in our crew.
  • Name something about each crew member that you respect.
  • When have you felt the closest with our crew and why?
  • When have you felt the most separated from our crew and why?
  • List what you are grateful for.
  • Sketch/Draw
  • Breathe
  • Record or reflect on Highs and Lows
  • Simply sit in silence

“Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” — Baltasar Gracia
“The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” – Iyanla Vanzant
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” — Ernest Hemingway

Reflective Things to Try…

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