The month of May always seemed to zip by. After spring break, it seemed time went into warp drive to the end of the school year. Assessments, cramming last units of required curriculum in, spring concerts, yearbook signings (booo!) and then there was June… “see ya!” It’s a critical time for so many reasons. Too often, lost in the rushed grades and such is a reflection of the year. Reflection on the lessons, the pace of the content, the classroom procedures…you name it.
Now though, is the perfect time to reflect. Things are fresh; just experienced. Your mind is mossy with all sorts of ideas to improve next year. Thankfully, the onset of new tech has enabled teachers to be better at this. It’s also so easy to encourage all the stakeholders in your class to share their reflections. Here’s just a few examples of how you could reflect using some of the free tools that are out there.
1. Create an exit slip for your students via http://www.polleverywhere.com/. Challenge students to text in a response to a reflection of their most memorable lesson. Conduct a class discussion around some of the top vote getter’s. Afterwards, concentrate on the qualities that made that lesson(s) a home run with the students. Focus on the lessons that were not voted on then. What can you take from the home run lessons to tweak the lagging lessons? Get those plans in place now!
2. Get other teachers together on your team or department level and create a wall on http://www.wallwisher.com/ to collect images and links that will help you deepen students experiences in content. We often share drinks on Friday’s with our department colleagues but precious few links and resources. Invite your administration to post ideas on ways they can support the teacher efforts to collaborate more.
3. Create a blog posting on a site like http://www.blogger.com/ that is directed specifically to parents. Highlight the year for them from your perspective in a timeline. Ask parents to leave their comments as a reflection of what they recall hearing from their kids when they came home. Were there stand-out moments? Anecdotes could be shared here that you would have never known otherwise.
4. If you have a class http://www.facebook.com/ Fan page, invite soon-to-be former students to post comments and helpful suggestions to students who will experience the class next year. Encourage these students to act as an alumni organization for your subject.
5. Based on all the feedback you get, determine what is the weakest area of your instruction. Narrow the list to two to three things to improve upon the next year. Using http://www.twitter.com/ , conduct searches on those topics using the keywords. Find people who are sharing ideas central to the subject of the weakness. Read their tweets, follow them, find their links to resources, and actively seek opportunities for on-demand webinars on them.
Great teaching is not an accident. It’s a craft that requires continual improvement. By spending time reflecting on the year as it’s winding down, you will recharge your batteries faster and be excited for your next school year. It’s that passion and enthusiasm for a new day with improved instruction that will spill over to your kids. All who know you will recognize your desire to improve and you will lift their spirits as well. It sends a loud message to all in your learning community that you are a great teacher. Reflect on that.