Reflecting on Your Year

Category: Ilm o Amal

The end of the academic year is close and it is time for teachers to reflect and start anew. In this month’s Ilm o Amal, TRC staff takes a look at various ways teachers can take stock of the year that has gone by and start looking ahead.

It is that time of the year when a lot of teachers and students are counting the days till the end of the school year. They are gearing up for exams and winding down the classroom, eager to throw up their feet on lazy days as the academic year comes to a close. You may even be doing year-end activities with students which involve looking back at the year and asking them to reflect on how well they did. Some teachers ask their students to really reflect on what they enjoyed learning throughout the year. Did they achieve what they set out to achieve at the beginning of the year? What were the most memorable moments of the year? Where could they improve?
But it is not just students who need to reflect on and learn from the past. We can keep growing no matter how old and experienced we are and we believe teachers should also reflect on the year gone by and reflect on how much they grew during it. To wonder whether it was a challenging year or an easy breezy one. Here are a few areas teachers can think about as the year comes to an end. (This is not an exhaustive list and is a basic guideline to help you get your started)

1. Reflect on your classroom routines and procedures
2. Reflect on your classroom management
3. Reflect on your classroom organisation
4. Reflect on your classroom set up
5. Reflect on the curriculum
6. Reflect on your own teaching strategy.
7. Reflect on your relationship with students, parents, and colleagues.

Generally, by the end of this exercise, you should be able to pinpoint the following.

What Stands Out?
What is worth celebrating at the end of the year? Was it how much your class achieved in terms of academic progress? Was it how you mentored a few students or one student in particular? Was it how well you were able to teach a concept? Or was it how you did better than expected in some aspect of your work? Whatever it is, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your achievement. Make a note about continuing with the positives you learnt this year.

What was challenging?
It may be one of those years in which you spent a lot of time tackling the challenges your class threw at you. You may have worked hard to build relationships between your students, you may have planned role play activities to get students to respect each other and the teachers. Your strategies may have worked or maybe they didn’t. Instead of thinking about what didn’t work as ‘failures’ or ‘mistakes’, think about how, in dealing with your classroom issues, you actually strengthened your teaching practice by tweaking or discarding ineffective strategies. Try to choose 2 or 3 of these areas to focus on in the coming school year.

Gear Up for the Next Academic Year
As you count down the days to the summer holiday, reflect on your work and think about how you can grow professionally based on what you learnt this year. Set a goal for next time by reflecting on what you want to improve in the coming year. Think about how else you can teach a concept, if what you used this year didn’t really work. Is there an area you want to focus on? Before you take your well-earned break, sit down and write about how you can improve or change what you do in class.
While getting organised for the coming year, start searching for and filing away ideas that you come across. You can find wonderful ideas from blogs posts and other paid and unpaid resources online. Keep building a list of ideas you want to try out next year.
You can also reach out to your colleagues to ask for suggestions on how to improve the areas you found challenging. Teachers can also research ideas the ‘old fashioned’ way by consulting books in a library or by purchasing books to help them focus for next year.
Once you have stayed with the reflection exercise for a week of so, try to sum up the year by giving it a theme. For instance: “2017-2018 was the year of _____________”.

While planning the coming academic year, think about the kind of teacher you want to be. For example, do you want to be a more open and collaborative teacher? Set goals for the ways you want to achieve that. Think about your teaching goals and back them up with a plan and concrete action.

We hope this helps you in organising our thoughts and making plans for next year. All the best for the coming academic year. Here’s to more teaching successes in the classroom!

April 2018