Ah, those brief moments of stillness at the end of the year—in between the parties, packing the room up, happily accepting Starbucks gift cards, and saying goodbye to those precious students we’ve watched grow all year.
We’re bound to feel a wave of emotions that the busy-ness of the school year has kept at bay: intense joy, perhaps frustration, relief or hopeful at the prospect of starting next year with a clean slate.
It’s time for some reflection; it is key in our practice as teachers.
The end of each school year is a natural time to think critically about our successes, challenges, and future direction for next year. That’s how we grow as educators.
These five questions allow me to uncover problem areas in my teaching, celebrate areas of growth, and create a clear plan of improvement for next year.
1. Did I grow by implementing any “firsts” this year? How did they go?
• How did the students respond? If positively, what other similar practices could I implement?
• Will I do this again?
2. When did I feel the most stress this year?
• Was it an isolated event or ongoing issue? If recurring, how did I address it?
• Do I have a good plan of action to handle these kinds of stressors in the future?
• Did I use this stress in a way that might teach the students how to handle their own stressful situations? (Be honest with yourself here—it’s okay if the answer is “no”!)
3. How was my classroom organization, planning, and scheduling?
• How can I better involve the students in classroom organization?
• What organizational tools could I benefit from purchasing to improve the organization of my classroom (and life!) next year?
• Did I allow enough time for parents, colleagues, and students to prepare for deadlines, meetings, and key events?
4. What is one way I grew professionally this year?
• How did I celebrate?
• How did this affect my students and my colleagues?
• In what ways were others involved in this growth, and was gratitude shared?
• What are other areas I would like to grow in next year?
5. How are my relationships?
• What strengths did I exhibit in interacting with my students? In what ways can I improve?
• How effectively and regularly did I communicate concerns and victories with the parents?
• Which colleagues’ philosophies align with mine and will challenge me as a teacher? How can I build relationships with them in the future to implement the most growth?
It’s summer—time to relax, rejuvenate, plan (yes, plan!), and take care of ourselves a little bit. While a reflective practice may seem like just one more box to check off before signing out for the school year, know that spending even ten minutes “summatively assessing” ourselves can have a lasting impact on our teaching careers and the experiences of our students.
And if we’re not thrilled with our honest answers to these questions, that’s okay! Now we know where we are, and more importantly, where we’re going.