Reflecting on the Year

Today marks the final day of the school year for many Australian government schools. Did you drag yourself to the finishing line or did you skip energetically? However you got there, it’s an excellent opportunity to reflect on the year that was.

No matter what circumstance you found yourself in throughout 2015, employment wise, there is much to appreciate and be grateful for. When the dust has settled on the last few days (and you’ve finished unwrapping all those ‘interesting’ gifts from students!), it’s really important to reflect.

Real change does not occur unless we are purposeful about it. Choosing not to reflect means we will continue as before. Not always a bad thing, however I think it’s essential to strive to be the best person and teacher we possibly can be. Self-awareness and mindfulness helps us to improve and grow.

In 2015 you may have begun your teaching career, been finishing up at uni or undertaking working as a relief teacher. No matter what your circumstances, the following questions should be responded to. Try to do them this year before your minds turn too much towards next year.

Did I use my time wisely?

Did you allow yourself enough ‘down’ time where you didn’t think about work? Did you use your time release effectively? Did you feel like you were always running from one thing/problem/lesson to another? Did you waste time on things that weren’t really necessary?

Am I employing a healthy perspective?

Are you looking at bumps in the road as opportunities for learning? Are you allowing negative thoughts/people to invade your mindset? Were you able to find positives in all your students? Are we able to hear other people’s perspectives?

Am I letting matters that are out of my control stress me out?

What have been the moments this year that have caused you the most stress? Could you actually control any of those moments? How could you manage stress levels better?

Am I achieving the goals that I set for myself?

Did you set goals? Are they SMART goals? Have you been purposeful in reaching your goals? What are some small and larger goals that you achieved?

What did I do really well this year?

List as many things as you can. Think about relationships (students, parents, colleagues), curriculum, planning, behaviour management, classroom management, resource preparation, application writing, interviews, differentiation, wellbeing, extra support, extension, school wide involvement and lesson delivery.

In what areas do I need more support?

Use the examples above as a guide and then jot down how you could gain that support.

Am I still passionate about teaching?

This may seem like a stupid question to ask, but it is very important. No matter how long you’ve been teaching, we still need to ask it. In 2014 I’d been teaching long enough to know I needed a break as I was becoming a little cynical and jaded. I was able to take twelve months leave without pay and that process helped me rediscover my love for teaching and to know it was still the right fit for me. I’m not advocating everyone do this, just to think about your circumstances.

If you really struggled with major aspects of teaching this year, why was this? Do you need to change schools? Do you need to change your workload? Do you need to change your time fraction? Do you need to change your year level or specialist area?

Were my students mostly excited to come to school each day?

How will you know this? Students will be chatty with you and enjoy your company. They will know you care about them and know many things about their lives. They will be mostly on task and engaged in their learning. Their parents will tell you. The majority of your class won’t require much behaviour management from you.

What’s special and unique about my teaching?

When students reflect on their time with you, what will stand out strongest in their memory? What is uniquely you? What sets you apart from your other teachers?

What student showed the most improvement this year and why?

Think academic, social and emotional. How did you contribute to this improvement? Could you use those methods with other students? Did you put more time into them than others?

What was the most valuable thing you learned this year?

Once you have responded to the above questions you will have a brilliant platform to begin planning for 2016.

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