Thursday, June 27, 2019

5 Questions to Help You Reflect on the Past School Year

By this point in June, many teachers have wrapped up their latest school year and are enjoying a relaxing summer. Our school year ended two weeks ago and I've been doing some reflecting on it.

For me it definitely was not one of the best in my career. Still, there were some extremely positive moments and I learned a few important lessons. In an effort to clarify and remember, I came up with this short list of reflection questions to work through. I hope you also find it helpful.

1)  How did the past school year compare to the ideal one I hold in my mind? 

Before answering, reflect on your picture of the ideal teacher having a great year. Common advice I get from many colleagues is to "be realistic", essentially prompting me to loosen up on those ideals. Well balance is important, I think we can gain a lot by mining those visions that drew us to the profession.

When comparing your ideal to the reality of the past year, don't just think of it overall. Write down the highs and lows that come to mind. When were things closest to the ideal? What stands out in those times? When was it furthest away? Why?

2)  What was the best thing I learned this year about being a good teacher?

Maybe it jumps right out at you, but in my case I had to start listing things. I thought back over the months and jotted down notes. There were lessons I would have forgotten had I not plumbed deeper.

Make a list of things you learned or things that you knew but that were made more real to you. Pick one or two that you think are most important. It's a good exercise to state them succinctly. If you can take the time, make a post about it and share it on social media.

3)  What habits, practices or resources need to change so my upcoming year will be better?

As I said, the past school year was a challenging one and I found myself abandoning a lot of practices--or at least vowing to in my frustration. If it's not working, why would I keep doing it? Right?

There's no doubt there's a time to let things go or to break patterns. But sometimes it's better to make some adjustments to them. From specific lesson plans to daily habits or even colleagues you hang out with, what are some changes you could make?

Of course, I don't mean to imply you can fix everything with some changes. Not all the less than ideal (or outright dreadful) aspects of a school year are within your control. Identify those too as you reflect.

4)  What should I stop doing?

Are there things you need to let go entirely? If you decided in the previous question that some things were beyond salvaging, list them here.

5)  What actions can I take between now and the new school year to make it my best year ever?

I wouldn't get too hung up on the goal setting, but it is important to set direction and some deadlines. Along with any plan, set a time in three or four weeks when you can review your list and see if you're making progress.

If you found this helpful or if you have any reflection practices you like, I'd love to hear from you. Please send me an email to let me know.