I’m going to be talking about the teaching practice of reflection and how we might apply that practice over our summer break. Many of us have a place on our current lesson planning document reflect on each specific lesson and now over summer break, it’s time to try our some big picture reflection. This habit pushes us to grow as professionals and to be intentional about expanding ourselves and our teaching practice.
What went well this school year?
First, I think about what went well for me this year. Where did I really knock it out of the park with my teaching? For me, this was a change in my morning routine and that made my whole day go smoother.
What worked well for students?
Next question – What worked well for my students? What had the greatest meaningful impact on my students and is there a way to replicate this idea other times during the year or with different grade levels?
What system can I change to have a significant impact?
Then I questioned, what is a system that I can change that would have a significant impact here I’m questioning routines, things I’ve done seemingly forever. For example, after reading about how another teacher ended their class, I really began questioning my end of class routine at the time I’d stopped the activity and say, “Time to line up”. You can imagine the chaos students fighting over who was first in line, students asking to leave the gym to go get water and here’s how my reflection changed the end of class. First, I determined that I needed a drinking fountain in the gym so students could drink water whenever they were thirsty. So I went to our local lumber yard and asked if they would be willing to pay for a fountain and its installation in return for a permanent thank you saying posted above the water fountain. They loved the idea and so now students can get water whenever the music is playing because then I’m not in direct instruction. Then I heard a PE teacher talk about what really happens in the line: Social positioning, arguing over who stands next to who and I realized there was a couple of reasons why I don’t like this. I work hard to ensure that the gym is always a socially and emotionally supportive environment. However, that was all just shot out the window at lineup time. I also couldn’t have closing conversations with students who are completely distracted by the social world of lining up. The solution was easy. Students line up by their heart rate monitor number.
How can I better maintain positive relationships?
Another practice I really examined in this reflection process was how I might better maintain positive relationships with the outgoing students. I’m not sure how outgoing students are at your school during the last two weeks, but sometimes at my school it feels like touch and go. Upon reflection, I identified most of my time during that last two weeks I felt frustrated with these students and I realized I really needed to shake things up. Enter novelty, my last two weeks with the outgoing class is now spent with quick and crazy activities that require minimal instructions and usually lots of group cooperation and I can praise them about how clever they are to figure out a strategy for the game or how wonderful they are to work so well together. This is definitely helped with managing exit class behavior issues and allowed me to maintain the positive relationships that we’ve developed.
Where has summer reflection led you? I’d love to hear about the successes you’re savoring and the changes you hope to make for next year. Summer provides such an awesome opportunity for a fresh start. Let’s just continue to make each fresh start better than the last!