I am sure that at this point in the summer, you are sitting in your lawn chair, relaxing with a nice glass of sweet iced tea (at least, that’s what my picture of relaxation looks like…). I don’t want to take you away from your relaxation, but I thought that now might be a good time to do a little end of year reflection.
I have 5 reflection questions for you to ponder. If all that you do is read through them, that would be enough to at least get you thinking… but if you’re committed, I’ve got a free printable with these year end reflection questions that you can use to follow along and help set you in the right direction for next year.
So let’s dive into each of these questions in turn:
1. What was challenging about “social distance teaching”?
Until you can pinpoint what really made the last quarter of last year hard for you, you won’t be able to look forward into the next year with any resemblance of optimism or excitement.
Was it the lack of student motivation? Was it the fact that student WiFi was pretty patchy? Was it that students didn’t have the proper technology at home to continue with what you had planned?
Whatever the case may be, just state it. Don’t try to think of solutions yet, write it out if that helps you, but don’t try to fix it.
If your answer to that question was “Nothing! I had a fantastic time teaching from my PJ’s in my most comfortable armchair everyday!” … then you have my permission to move onto the next question.
2. What did you ENJOY about teaching from home?
Perhaps this ought to have been the first question, but it seems like it is always easier to think about the negative than the positive. We need to look on the positive side if we are going to be able to move into next year with any sense of confidence!
What was something that lit you up in the morning when you looked into another day of social distance teaching? Was it that you could have a snack whenever you wanted to? Was it that you could stay in your PJs all day? Did you feel like you got more creativity out of students since they didn’t have to worry about the stress of being in a physical classroom?
Unlike the first question, don’t skip this one! We need to think positively about teaching...otherwise we’re REALLY going to struggle next year!
3. How has the affects of COVID-19 affected student motivation?
This one is perhaps the ringer! Teachers worldwide were struggling with student motivation far before COVID-19 hit and we’ll struggle when it’s all over as well.
The age old argument is that “the problem starts in the home, parents need to make more of an effort with their own kids!” This may certainly be true. But that’s not the point that I’d like to make today.
For now, at least for the point of this exercise, give your students a rating for both before and after the COVID outbreak. Going from 1 to 10, how motivated were they to do their schoolwork before they were forced to stay home all the time? How motivated were they afterwards?
Now see if you can name some specific things that made this whole process difficult. Was it technology issues? Was it confusion with the technology they were given? Did they not understand what was expected of them? Naming the issue is the first step to finding a solution to the problem.
4. What difficulties do you expect to face when the fall semester rolls around?
Now that you’ve thought about your students directly, what other obstacles do you think you’ll face when you get to the next year? Do you know what the next year will look like yet? Will there be students in the building yet?
Just list the things you see as potential issues, trust me, seeing them on paper will make them seem a little less of a burden on you than letting them stew around in your head for the rest of the summer!
5. Lastly, Is there anything that YOU can do to get ready to face these challenges?
I’m not saying that you can fix all the issues that you’ll face this fall, nor am I saying that you can ignore them. You’ll have to face them head on! But a little preparation now could go a long way come fall.
There will be things that are out of your control. For example, you can’t do anything about what your administration decides to do about the plans to meet in the building next year, nor can you control what technology gets sent home to students.
So focus on what you CAN do. If you know how the fall is going to look (students in the building or not), how can you get ready for it? Do you need to start learning some new online design programs? Do you need to purchase a new curriculum with professional video tutorials that go with each unit? (If so, I’ve got some great resources for you… :). Would it help to reach out to someone to ask for some advice in your specific situation (If so, I’m all ears! Go to my contact page and send me a line!)
See if you can think outside the box and really get creative. We live in “uncertain times” but that doesn’t mean that you have to uncertainly live!
Download the FREE pdf with the reflection questions for teachers that goes along with this article. Click the button below and enter your email!