What Have Your Learned This Year? Reflection and Projection

Anna Roseboro

Anna Roseboro

Are you a new literacy leader? A veteran in the classroom, administrative, or district office?  Or a student teacher just completing your first assignment in hopes of having to plan for and work with students on your own very soon?

Wondering how to get off to a better start in the next the school year?  Yes, the end of the current school year is a great time to reflect on what has gone well and to project on what you can do to be even more efficient and effective next year.  Whether a classroom teacher, literacy leader, or administrator or all three, you can readily adapt the ideas that follow to fit the position(s) you currently hold.

Why not take a summative assessment of what you’ve learned about your teaching/leadership this year?

 Before closing down your classroom or shutting off the school computer files for the summer, allot some focused time to conduct a brief, but honest, assessment on what they’ve learned this year about teaching, leading and learning.  Now is a good time to record what went well and to outline specifically what you can do over the summer to be better prepared for the Fall, even if you don’t have your new assignment yet. This shouldn’t take more than an hour or so, but time spent will be well invested.  Having written what’s on your mind and made a plan, you then can set aside your notes and concentrate on time with family and friends, and catch up on vital tasks that have been postponed till now.  You know that list is longer than you’d like to admit even to your dearest friend.

Consider the prompts that follow, or simply use your school’s standards for your course(s), the job description, or set of charges for your position. Taking time now, while your memory is fresh will give you a better idea  of what you have accomplished and what, realistically, you can aim to achieve next year.  If you’ve never completed one, consider also the S.M.A.R.T. exercise at this link. It’s an activity used in a workshop I incorporated at the National Council of Teachers of English Early Career Educators Leadership Institutes in 2008-2010.

Think about it. You’ve had several months with most of your students, department or team members and you now know more about them as individual learners, classroom teachers, or literacy supporters and also how they work in groups.  Take a little time now to think about what you’ve learned about your experience with them this past year.

  • Who were your three most challenging students/teachers/colleagues? Most satisfying?  (Could be the same.)
  • Are you satisfied with the way you addressed the challenging one and or acknowledged the work of  satisfying ones?  Why?  Why not?
  • What did you learn about individual students/teachers/colleagues and groups of learners/teachers/teams that will help you plan better for next year?
  • When have you find the best time for your personal rest and rejuvenation? Midweek, weekends, holiday breaks?  (Yes, this should be at the core of your planning each school year.)
  • Where did you go for dependable, reliable professional support? Colleagues, online, conferences, other?
  • Why was your most effective lesson/meeting/project successful?  Least effective, even a bomb?
  • How well did you implement the plans you made to meet Common Core State Standards or whatever curriculum goals you were charged to meet or help your teachers to meet by the end of the current  school year?

NOW SUMMARIZE: What do you know now that can help you with planning for next year?

  • How can your colleagues and or administrators help you achieve your goals for the next school year?
  • What professional development opportunities will you maximize this summer? Reading, on-line, conference, workshop, travel?  Attending the Conference on English Leadership Institute on Critical Issues, July 17-19 at Elmhurst College (near Chicago)?

There’s no need to use those open-ended questions. Instead, you can adapt a list of department grade level objectives or teacher evaluation criteria and simply rate yourself on a scale of 1-6 on how close you’ve come to reaching those objectives. Then, write a couple of realistic strategies for maintaining, raising those rating, or setting goals for reaching the remainder of the objectives in the upcoming school year.

Be encouraged; you have the summer to refine your practices and certainly will do a better job next year helping more students/teachers to reach those goals, improve their skills, and expand their learning in ways that will be engaging, inspiring and effective.

Below is a sample form you can adapt as you look back and plan forward.

Self-Reflection and Projection

Look through your lesson plans and observation notes, and then consider what you have learned this school about teaching or coaching teachers on the following skills.  Succinctly, record one thing you have learned to do better and one thing on which you will work this next school year. Record something specific you recall as evidence for yourself, to show what you have done well, what you plan to do better.

SKILLS TAUGHT OR COACHED Rate1-6(l-h) What can you do better now than you could at the start of the school year? On what will you work this summer to implement with your next set of students/teachers?  Be specific.
Reading: Consider efficiency and comprehension, ability to interpret, analyze, and evaluate what is read.  
Writing: Consider content – having something to write about, organization, development, and documentation.Communicating with families?
Speaking : Consider value of their contributions to class/meeting discussions.
Consider respect for others as they spoke.
Consider ease with which they learned to speak/consulted with you?
Consider frequency with which you invite students/staff/teachers to speak in class or at meetings.
Listening:  Consider how attentive you are to your students/staff/teachers.
Consider how well you taught them follow directions.
Consider how courteous you are to students/staff/teachers. Observe them listening to one another.
Study Skills:  Consider homework/tasks assigned – most complete on time? Tasks completed on time?
Consider how often students/teachers/staffed arrived with text, notebook/laptop/tablet, pen and pencil.
Other – What else shows how well you have taught/coached/learned this  school year?


Plan Professional Enrichment for Summer 2014

As you reflect on your past year, consider how useful it can be to attend a summer professional enrichment conference to help confirm what you’re doing well and inspire you to return better informed on ways to address challenges of coming school year.  Equally important, think about what you can share with co-attendees!

The Conference on English Leadership Summer Institute on Critical Issues may be just the right investment in your future.  Scheduled to meet Thursday to Saturday, July 17-19, 2014, at Elmhust College, Elmhurst, Illinois, this year’s institute will focus on issues of assessment.  According to the CEL website, in addition to hearing daily keynote speakers, Beverly Chin, Scott Eggerding, Scott Filkins, and Tamara  Maxwell, you have the option of collaborating in small group conversations on important aspects of assessment with literacy leaders from across the country. Bring your own individual plans and work closely with others in one of three Institute strands:

  • Using Formative and Summative Assessments to Improve Teaching
  • Assessment of Teachers
  • Assessment of Curricular Programs

Innovative technology mini-lessons will also take available throughout the Institute program. The fees are modest and lodging options include stays in air-conditioned dorm rooms. Registration Rates: CEL Members:  $300;
NCTE Members (not members of CEL); $325 Nonmembers:  $375.

Institute registration also includes Wi-Fi accessibility, on-campus parking, and the following meal events: Thursday: dinner, Friday: breakfast and lunch, Saturday: breakfast and lunch. The planners even organized a Popcorn and Movie option on Friday evening.  What could be better?

Seriously, education and professional development both are serious work.  So I encourage you to take a little time for reflection and projection before you forget key details. Looking back and planning forward can be the key to your continued success, significant improvement and long-term satisfaction as a teacher-leader in this second decade of the 21st Century.

Submited for CEL Blog for June, 2014

Anna J. Small Roseboro, Author
National Board Certified Teacher
Secondary Section Liaison to Conference on English Leadership


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