How to Be Better Than You Were Last Year: Teacher Edition




Hi, y'all!

I hope everyone is off to a great start to the summer! While I know that each of you deserve a much needed break, I also know that all teachers at some point over the summer, reflect back over the previous year to guide how they approach the next year. In the spirit of reflection, I wanted to write a post  that can hopefully help us all be more intentional with our reflection.

Something that is extremely important to me as far as teaching goes, is to always try to continuously improve my effectiveness.  Reflecting honestly on my teaching practice is a key in being able to do that. The day that I get complacent, and think that the way I've always done things is the way I'll always do things, is a day I am not putting forth my best self for kids.

When I reflect, it all mainly boils down to how my teacher actions affected student actions. The following list is not exhaustive, but questions that I have asked myself that help me re-focus over the summer to start to prepare for the next year:


Classroom Goals
  • Did we reach the classroom goals?
  • Of those we reached, why did we reach those? What can we do next year to build on that success?
  • Of those we didn't reach, why didn't we reach those?
  • Were my classroom goals big, measurable, and easily articulated to kids?
  • Did I do a good job of investing the kids in the big goal? What can I continue to do, or improve upon for next year to improve investment with students?

Classroom Culture

  • Did I really get to know all of my students this year?
  • If so, what do I need to ensure I continue to do next year to get to know the new group? If not, what do I need to do differently?
  • Did my attitude toward my work contribute to student learning or stifle it?
  • Are my relationships with students helping the students learn, or hindering me from effectively behavior managing?
  • Would I want to be in the class? Would I want my child to be in this class?


Student Behavior
  • What teacher actions led to student misbehavior this year?
  • What about my classroom layout/set-up allowed for student misbehavior?
  • Was I consistent with my classroom behavior management plan? If not, why not? What should be changed?
  • Do I need to teach the behavior expectations differently next year, or outline them more explicitly?
  • What worked and what didn't work with my classroom management plan overall?
  • Did I follow through when giving consequences/communicating with parents? If not, why?
  • Was I consistent in rewarding/incentivizing positive student behavior? 
  • Is what I did this year to reward positive student behavior sustainable for next year's group of kids? 
  • What can I do to improve next year to encourage positive behavior/buy-in of class goals?
  • What can I do to improve re-directiing and tracking negative behavior?
  • Who can I speak with or go observe to get ideas regarding behavior management?

Collaboration & Team Function
  • In what areas can I improve in order to help the team?
  • Did my actions prohibit my team from growing, working more efficiently, or trying new things?
  • What "worked" on our team?
  • What can we do to become more consistent?
  • How can we support each other better in the next year?
  • What is at least one thing that we should try as a team next year?
  • Does our team exhibit to kids that we believe all of them can meet expectations and can succeed at a high level? If not, what must we change so that is the case?
Self-Care
  • What can I do next year to further prioritize my family instead of taking so much work home with me? 
  • What can I change for next year that will make me a more efficient teacher?
  • How can I structure my classroom, planning period, short down periods during the day to maximize my effectiveness at school?
  • What do I need to prioritize next year so I can live a balanced life?
  • What can I do next year to help me stay excited about teaching?
Instruction/Teaching Practices
  • What lessons "worked" this year?
  • For lessons that didn't work, was it because of lack of preparation, they weren't interesting to kids, they should be taught in a  different order?
  • Did I give enough feedback to kids? If so, was my feedback meaningful?
  • Did my grade book reflect student learning and progress?
  • Did my assessments assess learning effectively?
  • Did I backwards plan effectively?
  • What can I do to better assist those who don't "get it"? 
  • What can I do to better assist those who work more quickly and need meaningful extension?
  • How do I know that my students are learning?
So, what do you think? What am I leaving out? I'd love to hear your own reflections and question in the comments or in an email! More to come on this topic later in the summer :)

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