Sunday / July 21

Reflecting at the End of the School Year

There’s so much to do as the school year comes to an end! The days are some of the busiest. We have to write final reports and/or submit grades, put textbooks away, order next year’s supplies, and tidy up classrooms for summer cleaning. Yet the most important task of all is one in which we stop and think about ourselves–reflecting on what the year has meant to us, what we have accomplished, and what we can improve upon in the future.

Here are six sets of questions for you to ask yourself:

  • How well did you get to know your students and they get to know you?
    • How did relationships with your students impact you as you came to know them?
    • What perceptions did students have of you at the beginning of the year? What change(s) might you make to improve relationships?
    • How can your classroom be a comfortable place for all?
  • How did mentoring and collegial collaboration influence your teaching experiences?
    • By what means did your colleagues support you in the various challenges you faced?
    • Which strategies most helped you to reach the goals you set for yourself?
    • Think about your signature strengths. How might you share these with others?
  • Which lessons were most engaging, meaningful and relevant, for your students?
    • What contributed to their effectiveness?
    • Where did they fit in the curriculum?
    • How might you enhance other lessons? Other units?
  • Which assessments provided students the best opportunities to demonstrate their learning?
    • What types of performances or products enabled students to show their progress most effectively?
    • Did assessments provide enough information on which to base further instruction?
    • Which formats did the students enjoy the most?
  • What were the biggest failures and how did you respond?
    • Have you become more humble? More tolerant? More flexible?
    • Were you stimulated to make changes?
    • Did you model for others, students as well as colleagues, how to take risks and learn from failure?
  • How will you refresh and invigorate your teaching next year?
    • What new experiences this summer would be stimulating and significant for you?
    • Which types of professional development will you seek?
    • Who will you invite to form or join your support group of caring, creative, committed, and passionate individuals?

To become more effective as educators we must take time to think critically about our relationships with others and our teaching performance. Reflective practice and the results that follow from small modifications to great transformations, can lead to positive change for all in the future. What will 2015-2016 look like for you?

For a guide on navigating a career in teaching, see The Teacher’s Journey: The Human Dimensions.

Click here to download a free book study & reflection guide!

Written by

Ellen Kottler, Ed.S., has been a teacher for over 30 years in public and private schools, alternative schools, adult education programs, and universities. She has worked in inner-city schools as well as in suburban and rural settings. She was a curriculum specialist in charge of secondary social studies and law-related education for one of the country’s largest school districts. Ellen is the author or coauthor of several books for educators, including Secrets for Secondary School Teachers: How to Succeed in Your First Year, On Being a Teacher, Secrets to Success for Beginning Elementary School Teachers, Counseling Skills for Teachers, English Language Learners in Your Classroom: Strategies That Work, Secrets to Success for Science Teachers, Students Who Drive You Crazy: Succeeding with Resistant, Unmotivated, and Otherwise Difficult Young People, and The Teacher’s Journey.

She teaches secondary education and supervises intern teachers at California State University, Fullerton.

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