As the semester winds to a close and we all prepare for our Winter Break, I am brought to mind of the importance of reflection. So often we rush ourselves through day by day without stopping to take the time to reflect on our classroom practices and the effects of those practices on ourselves and our students. It is so easy to forget this important part of teaching because there are so many other activities and demands on our time. The problem is that this kind of rushing around is not good for anyone. It is so important to slow down, take a breath, and think back over what we've done. This reflection helps us then move forward and plan for the future. Below are some different topics and questions to help you reflect over your teaching practices this semester.
1) The Classroom - Is your classroom arranged in a welcoming way that encourages student learning? Does the flow of the room help or hinder learning? Are the visual elements of your classroom distracting or do they encourage learning and motivate students? Do you and students feel comfortable in the classroom?
2) Classroom Routines - What routines did you use that you feel were effective this semester? Which ones need an overhaul? How can you change them so that they are more effective for you and for the students? What new routines would you like to put in place for the new semester? Think about the ideal flow of daily activities and events in the classroom.
3) Parent Communication - What level of parent communication did you encourage this semester? Were parents actively involved in the classroom? Do you feel you kept them adequately informed of what was happening in the classroom? What made you the most nervous about calling and talking with parents? What can you do to ease that nervousness? What can you do to encourage more parent involvement? Did you find yourself calling parents as it was needed, or putting off the phone calls? How has the parent response been to you in the classroom? What can you do to help parent response be positive?
4) End of Semester - What are your thoughts at the end of this grading period? What worked well in terms of lessons and units? What needs to be changed? How were your interactions with students, parents, and colleagues? What challenges are you currently facing? What are your thoughts on these challenges? How might you overcome/solve the issues facing you at this time? What new ideas do you plan to implement at the start of the new grading period?
These are just a few topics to consider at the end of the semester as you reflect and plan for the next semester. Our hope is that these questions will lead to further reflection over all areas of your teaching. Keep a journal over the holiday and jot down your thoughts and ideas to help you put them into a better frame of reference. You'll find that this type of reflection not only helps you put away past baggage, but also helps you re-energize for the upcoming semester.