A wealth of physics education research in recent decades has helped identify innovations that offer the most promise for truly effective physics learning. There is no doubt that active learning, mastery of concepts coupled with student self-checks, effective use of technology, and problems that challenge without overwhelming are all important components. Active learning will naturally happen when students are sufficiently engaged with the topics and the environment, but how do we really foster that? Working as part of a collaborative author team, self-reflection, and writing about physics has been an effective way for us to learn insights on both physics and learning. We will share ideas on how you might apply similar experiences to your own physics classrooms.