Reflection & Growth

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.

At the end of every school year, one of my favorite things to do is to take some time to reflect on the year – what worked well?  What didn’t work so well?  What are the things I want to improve upon?  And conversely, what are the things I want to just forget ever happened?

As you are wrapping up your year, keep in mind that moments of reflection can be one of the most powerful pieces of the learning puzzle.  After you have finished cleaning your classroom, preparing for summer break, finishing student grades, and the multitude of other things that the end of the year will bring, take a little quiet time by yourself to just reflect.

You might choose to look back at your lesson plans from the year, you might look at samples of student work that you hung onto, or you might have another method that works for you to remind yourself of all that happened in your room during the last 180 student days.  Whatever method you choose, ask yourself some questions:

  • What are the things that happened this year that were awesome, and you can’t imagine not doing again?  How will you make sure not to forget by next year?
  • What are the things that you were excited about that maybe your students didn’t enjoy as much as you thought they would?  What could you add to get the students more excited about that topic? (If you’re looking for some ideas to hook your students into a lesson, check out Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess – tons of great hooks that can build interest, excitement, and engagement)
  • What did you feel was the single most effective thing you did in your classroom this year?  What ideas can you take from that activity to make other activities more effective?

As you reflect, also take some time to think about things you wish to learn more about.  Make a list of those things that you wish to learn more about.  Write it down so you don’t forget.  If you’re anything like me, the first few days of summer break will be just that, a break.  At some point, you’ll get the itch to think a little more about the things that will help you grow as an educator.  At that time, go back to your list and use some of your free time to grow as an educator!

Many of us also love to have an accountability partner so that we don’t get to the end of the summer and feel like we didn’t accomplish any of the things we wanted to do.  Share the things that you are interested in with your colleagues at the beginning of summer – your teammate, your PLC, others with similar interests – and then reach out to them from time to time.  Share what you are learning, a great book you’re reading, a blog post you loved, or something else that fits with your topic.  For those of us on Twitter – use the hashtag #RSISummerLearning (clicking the link will take you directly to a search of that hashtag on Twitter) to share what you’re up to.  Even if you don’t post to Twitter, you can go to that search anytime to see what others may have shared.  The more we all share, the more we all can learn from one another!  Next August we’ll all be able to bring that learning back to school to support our students and do even more amazing things!

Most of all, enjoy your summer time!  I know that I’m looking forward to my summer for some relaxation, a Cubs game or two, time with family and friends, and time to do some of the things that I never seem to have time for during the school year.  Have a great summer!

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