Reflecting on the School Year to Capitalize on Your Wins!

Do you plan to spend a good portion of your summer break making to-do lists of all that you want to change or do better in your classroom next year? Do you typically spend your time skimming teacher blogs and coming across more ideas to add to your list? reading books that will help improve your teaching and your students' classroom experiences? wish-listing products on Teachers Pay Teachers that promise to make all the difference for your students?

At the start of each new school year, my head is spinning with new ideas and changes I want to make. Today, I'd like to advise you to PRESS PAUSE on the new ideas and changes for a bit and set aside time to reflect on the past school year.

reflecting on the school year to highlight success.jpg

10 years into my teaching career, I had a huge realization. It dawned on me that I spent so much time driven to improve my teaching that I almost always concentrated my thinking on what wasn’t going well. I knew that improving those things would make me a better teacher, but using this lens to examine my teaching practices and my eager pursuit of trying to do everything better left me feeling overwhelmed, defeated, and burned out.

I realized that I would better serve myself, my students, and my own professional development if I consciously took the time to identify the good and committed to keeping those things going.

I think it's time that one of our "End of School Year" habits becomes reflecting on the highlights of the past year and consciously planning to take what worked with us into the upcoming school year. (If your teacher brain already works like this, I ENVY you.)

Here's the process for reflecting on the past school year that I’ve found helpful—

questions for end of year teacher reflection pin.jpg

1) Reflect and Brainstorm a list all of my favorite classroom experiences, lessons, activities, and routines. This list is a HUGE brain dump of all of the ideas I can think of. I use the following questions to trigger ideas:

  • When did you feel most alive as a teacher this year {or ever}? What were you doing? What were your students learning?

  • During which projects did you see a high level of student engagement and motivation?

  • What new things did you try this year that had you saying "I can't wait to do this again"?

  • Considering your work this year, what are you most proud of?

2) Next, I rank the highlights and reduce my list down to my top 10 favorites. Morning Meetings, project-based learning, hands-on math lessons, and poetry workshop are topics that always make my list!

3) Now that I'm armed with my list of top 10 favorite classroom highlights, I look for connections among the items on the list, and I generate ideas for replicating these lessons, experiences, and routines in the upcoming school year.

I’ve found this reflection process to be one of the best things I can do as one school year ends and another is soon to begin. Before you jump into all of the things you want to do differently, I want you to remember what went well and hold tight to those experiences! We often rush from the end of one year straight into the next without being sure that we carry our growth and our own positive learning experiences with us as we move forward.

end of year teacher reflection tool free pdf download.jpg

If you want a place to capture your reflection, I created an "End of Year" reflection tool that includes a list of the reflection questions I like to use, brainstorming templates, and graphic organizers that can help you elaborate on your school-year highlights and create a plan for replicating your positive experiences in the upcoming year. You can get the reflection tool sent straight to your inbox by sharing your email below.

This teacher advice blog post was part of a collaborative blog link up with my upper elementary teacher friends. We wanted to share some of our best teacher advice with you. Click on the advice below the image to learn more about each tip for a successful school year and grab free reflection tools, checklists, questionnaires, and more!

teacher tips for upper elementary.jpg
Tammy RooseComment