New Teacher Toolbox: End-of-Year Reflection Ideas for Improved Teaching and Learning for Next School Year

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First, grab your planner, give it a hug, and then thrust it unceremoniously into the shredder. Wait-grab that first page where you wrote all of your passwords and emergency phone numbers, and then shred it to bits. What you did is past, there is nothing more to be done. Closing the year and allowing it to live in the past can help to set your creativity free. Starting over from scratch each year would be both inefficient, and a detriment to student learning. But your planner did not represent the work you did with your students this year. That all likely lives in a binder full of printables and on the hard drive of your work laptop.

Next, read every single card that came with every end-of-year chocolate-based gift while enjoying a nice glass of wine in the sun. The most honest assessment of your performance this year is contained in that homemade card laden with fingerprints. Yes, you are a “Grat Tacher”(oops, hit the phonemic awareness a little harder next year!). Your students appreciated every read aloud and fist-bump at the door.

You inspired your students this year. Need proof? Just read that pile of cards your students made you!

Give yourself a month before you dive into step three, which is looking over your learning standards for next year, and asking yourself where improvements can be made to your curriculum. Key to this step is an understanding of how to use your standards to design an authentic learning experience that can be measured with a formal or informal assessment. All of the activities, readings, and work in between have to go back to the standards every. single. time. This is harder than it looks, and warrants your time this summer…after you’ve had a little R-n-R.

Finally, move towards your next year (not away from this one!) with inspiration. At the beginning of the summer, identify some books to push you to try something new next year. My books for 2021-22 are Better Conversations by Jim Knight and The Writing Revolution: A guide to advance thinking through writing in all subjects and grades by Judith Hochman, Natalie Wexler, and Doug Lemov. (note that these are not affiliate links) For more book recommendations, check out THIS blog post about my favorite teaching books over the years.

Try something new this year and throw out the traditional teacher reflection song-and-dance. Refocus on what matters and move towards your next school year with positivity and purpose!

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