Although I have almost a month left of school, I'm starting to see posts on Facebook and hear from friends who are on summer vacation now (and, not gonna lie, it's making me a little jealous!). While I make it a point to take some time away from work and give my brain and heart a break from the classroom, I also value the time I have in the summer to reflect on my teaching practice and come up with strategies for improvement. Today I want to share some prompts that I find helpful in reflecting on the previous school year, and preparing for the next, in a constructive way.
1. What are my favorite memories from this school year?
It's easy to get caught up in analyzing the nitty-gritty or stewing over systemic problems out of our control. Intentionally spending some time remembering those really great moments has really helped me focus on the positive and on what really matters- the real, human, amazing moments we have with kids.
2. What am I most proud of from this school year?
Did I take the initiative to get some extra professional development? Did I lead a committee or organize an event for the wider school community? Did I get an award or recognition? Did I get a shy kid to dance with wild abandon in my classroom?
3. What did I do differently this year that worked?
Hopefully, as teachers, we are constantly changing and adapting. Sometimes we try a new initiative, program, lesson, or teaching strategy (by choice or otherwise) and it is a total flop, but sometimes it turns out that this new way was better than our old way and we improve!
4. What did I do differently this year that didn't work?
OK, so what are the things that flopped? Let's make sure we learn from those and don't repeat those mistakes.
5. What were the biggest stressors this year?
We can all remember times that we were stressed out. What was it, specifically, that made us feel stressed?
6. What can I do to minimize those stressors next year?
If the stressor was a district policy change, how can I adapt my teaching to make the new policy less stressful? If it was a coworker, what can I do to improve the relationship? If it was the workload, how can I prepare now so that the work is not as overwhelming? Even if the stressor is out of our control, there are ways we can control the impact it has on our work and well-being.
7. What new ideas do I want to try next year?
Back to the changing and adapting concept- what are some new lessons, behavior management strategies, organizational methods, professional development opportunities, or teaching methods I want to try next year? I find tons of inspiration on teacher blogs, Pinterest, and my colleagues' classrooms!
I hope these prompts help you as you reflect on your year and prepare for the next. If you have other questions that you have found helpful, please share! I would love to hear them and I'm sure other teachers would benefit as well. Happy summer!