Reflect on these three questions for end-of-year reflection and refine your teaching methods to better support your students in standard mastery.
Have you ever gotten to the end of a school year and thought…
“Dang! I CRUSHED this year!”
I don’t think I have EVER felt that way. It kind of comes with the profession, don’t you think?
We are constantly attending professional development meetings, learning how to make our teaching better. We have some of our worst class periods tattooed into our brains and unfortunately probably dwell on those days more than we should.
I know when I get to the end of the year, I typically think…
”Well, I did my best…but I could DEFINITELY do better next year.”
Is this you, also?
Are you hard on yourself year in and year out?
Well, you are not alone!
As much as it is a curse, it is also what makes us teachers so great. We don’t settle for mediocrity. We don’t settle with doing the same thing each year (and with best practices in education always changing, how can we?)
So, at the end of the year, what questions should we reflect upon in order to make necessary changes for the next year?
Did I cover all the standards for my subject area?
As you know, education builds on itself from one year to the next. Students may learn about adjectives this year in order to learn about adjectival clauses next year. Thus, it is important to make sure that all grade-level standards are covered.
The easiest way to review your curriculum is to use a checklist. Document your required standards and go through each standard on the list, identifying the units you used to teach each standard. Take this process a step further and look at average grades for each unit. How many students mastered the standard? How many students were proficient? How many students fell below the proficiency mark?
You may even need to ask yourself…
Do I even know if they mastered the standards taught in that unit? Did my assessments truly assess the standards or were my lessons more fluffy than they needed to be?
☝️I know these questions can be tough because we may come to conclusions that are unsettling…but these unsettling conclusions are often the start of true reflection and TRUE change.
Check out The Sparkly Notebook’s checklists which walk you through the standards for different grade levels and subjects. If you teach more than one subject area or more than one grade level, grab the K-12 Standards Breakdown Checklist Bundle.
Were my students able to learn using their preferred learning style?
This is a tough one. The beginning of the school year starts and you are handed 23 to 123 students 🙂 who are all at different levels and all have different learning styles. We, teachers, try to incorporate diverse teaching methods throughout the year, but maybe we missed the mark with certain lessons. So, how do we improve? Is it even possible to improve in this area?
It may not be possible to master, but it is definitely possible to improve.
Start by sharing a survey with your students. Ask them questions like:
- Did you enjoy your English class this year? Why or why not?
- How do you learn best and did you feel like the lessons were taught in a way that you could master the content?
- In your opinion, what could be improved in the day-to-day in my classroom?
These types of questions may not work for younger students in the elementary classroom because they probably won’t truly know how to provide the answers you are looking for. However, parents may have some helpful insight and so you could always send the survey home to them. This option may be WAY scarier because you are opening a door for parental critique, but if we are truly going to make change, don’t we want to know what could be improved even if it hurts our egos a bit?
*You ALWAYS reserve the right to accept and decline any of the suggestions you receive. Some responses may not be helpful at all…BUT even one or two responses that trigger change will make this entire process completely worth it!
Some of my lessons didn’t go well, how can I come up with new ideas for next year?
This question requires some research. It is so easy to fall into a dull lesson due to a lack of time and energy during the school year.
But right now, you are at closing in on the final weeks of the year. You probably have a couple of PD days here soon to finalize your grade books and tidy up the classroom and do whatever else it is you need to do before summer break. Maybe take some time during those days to research some new ideas for lessons while the year is still fresh in your mind. Spend a day this summer getting together with other teachers in your subject area to brainstorm standards-aligned units that are fun and engaging. Check out the blogs written by other teachers to learn how they teach the areas that you struggle with the most.
Essentially, the goal is to look at those standards that you know you didn’t cover well and figure out how to teach them better next year.
If you want something simple, The Sparkly Notebook has a new product line that does this very thing. These ELA standards-based products include one product for EACH standard so that you can truly dive into the standards that require more support. Our focus with each product is to use fun and engaging lessons to teach mastery of each standard and help you feel more confident as a teacher that you are covering each standard well.
For more information about this product line and why we created it, check out this previous blog post.
To put it simply…
There is no such thing as a perfect classroom. There is always room for tweaks and change…and by truly reflecting on essential questions like the three stated above, you will have the map that will help you make necessary changes to improve your teaching from year to year!