The end of the school year is often a time of reflection. We think back on the year and all that it brought with mixed emotions. How did this year go? What will I do again next year? What will I definitely refrain from doing again? Though I know the last thing many teachers want to think about is the start of school in August, when all we need is a break, here are a few ideas on reflection to check out for implementation next year.
Feedback From Students– One way to gather some useful feedback, and have students reflect on their experience in your class, is to have students complete a course evaluation at the end of the 9 weeks, semester, or year. Take a look at a few feedback forms from The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt College to get you started. I personally like “B” & “C” because they provide a little more focused information. Think about utilizing your teacher evaluation rubric to guide you in creating your own. I will never forget when receiving feedback from my students early in my career how surprised I was to see that they wanted me to be “more strict.” Or that my favorite units/projects were students’ least favorite. Not only do you get the honest truth from your students but occasionally you get a comment or two that makes all of the tough days worth it.
Think About Video– Please don’t start sweating and shaking your head “no” as you read this. One great way to reflect on your teaching and gain useful feedback is to video record part of a class period. I know you may be getting flashbacks to college courses where you had to check out a camcorder and you may still even have your VHS tapes tucked away on a dusty shelf somewhere. But I think this is a worthy idea to consider. Here’s why–
- Video allows you to get a true picture of what is actually happening in your classroom. It is difficult to see and hear all that is happening in a busy classroom when you are in the thick of it. Why not see what your evaluator sees when he/she walks into the room?
- You are able to create a worthwhile goal to improve your practice– not something that is just another box to check off before the end of the year. When you watch your classroom on video you are able to see areas of potential improvement that are relevant and meaningful to you and your students.
- Use your video to create meaningful dialogue between you and your instructional coach. Instead of using your coach as purely a “resource finder” put them to work for you. When you have identified a need he/she can work with you to select strategies and ideas to implement that are specific to that need. He/she can also model, observe, and provide ongoing feedback to help you reach the goal you have created.
Think about it. Remember that your video is for you and no one else. Watching the first few times can be tough– I now know my voice is weird, I nod my head a lot, and I play with my earrings when I’m nervous (among other faults). Ugh. But, the gain is totally worth the pain.
Blogging– Check out some of these sites and think about getting started with your own blog. It might sound like just another thing to add to the to-do list but I think it is worth looking into. Not only does a blog give you a chance to share tips, tricks, ideas, etc. with other educators (we learn the most from each other!) but it also gives you a chance to reflect on your current practice. Sitting down weekly, distilling all of the weeks activities, lessons, strategies, and ideas down into a story, step-by-step, or collection of tidbits forces you to look at what you are doing and why you are doing it. Not much of a writer? Don’t worry! Think about what you want from a blog– useful info, great ideas, and relevance.
- http://ajjuliani.com/30-days-blogging-challenge/ This 30 day challenge might seem like a little much but for those of you that go “all in” this might be a great idea.
- http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/52-education-blogs-you-should-follow/ Long list of educational blogs to check out. Use some of them as inspiration or a guide.
- https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/guest-bloggers/ I love this site for many, many reasons but this page would be a good resource for ideas on topics to get started or even submit a guest post for consideration.
Happy summer break to all! Just a quick note– I will be posting throughout the summer though posts may be a little less regular. Thanks for reading!