Bring Reflection to your Volunteering Programs!

Posted on October 10, 2011. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: , |

Reflection is a very important aspect of service that is so often forgotten. Check out some tips for incorporating reflection into your programs from the HandsOn Network.

Reflection doesn’t have to be a structured activity – be creative in how you include reflection into service projects!

When you’re planning how to include reflection into service, be sure to remember the following:

  • Allow time for reflection. Blocking out some time at the end of a service project for reflection is important. Not just because it’s including reflection in the project, but because allows volunteers to organize their thoughts about the day.
  • Directly relate reflection to the service being done. When you’re guiding volunteer reflection, try to keep it focused on the work that was done on that day and the impact that the volunteers’ service had.
  • Plan for reflection from the beginning. Be intentional about including reflection from the start of the project planning process.
  • Reflection is about learning. The goal of reflection is to learn more about the service that volunteers did and the impact that they have. Volunteers shouldn’t be expected to share anything they’re not comfortable sharing.
  • The best reflection isn’t always planned. Be flexible and be prepared to capitalize on teachable moments that may pop up during the day. Reflection doesn’t have to happen at the end of the project.

Not sure how to include reflection into your service projects? Try these easy activities:
  • Evaluation: Add a few reflection questions to your written evaluation form, like “How did people respond to you?” or “How does what you did today compare with anything you’ve done in the past?” or “What advice would you give to someone doing this project for the first time?”
  • Guest Book: Ask volunteers to sign your organization’s guest book before they leave. Let them know they are free to write anything they would like about their service experience.
  • Contribution Cards: Prepare a small card for each volunteer that includes information on how their service contributes to the mission of the organization and how they’ve helped the community. Link their work to broader community issues.
  • Lunch Break: Provide a reflection opportunity during a meal break. Provide background material on the social issues your organization addresses on the lunch tables. Provide some sample discussion questions for volunteers to discuss as they eat.


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