The Holidays are a Time for Reflection
The holiday season is a time when families can come together and reflect on their year. This season is also a great time to reconnect with family and friends. For educators, not only is it a time to spend with loved ones, but it is also a time to recharge one’s batteries and prepare to begin a new semester.
After all of the tests are graded, marks are recorded, and student grade negotiations have taken place, faculty have a brief moment to take a breath and step away from the chaos that is teaching. Most educators think about what went well this semester, and some might even cringe when recalling an awkward moment or a failed activity. All of this, wrapped in a bow, provides closure and sets the stage for a new audience in January.
One strategy faculty can employ at the end of a semester to help them start the new one off strongly is to make a quick list of 3-5 things that they felt went well. Examples would include reflections on pacing, integrated activities, student rapport, student engagement, and, the biggest factor, student achievement. Focus on what you did well; this will give you a sense of accomplishment while providing a great place to start with your classes in January.
Once you have focused your time thinking about what went well, take a moment to have an honest reflection about what you could do differently moving forward. Was there an imbalance of lecture and active learning? Was student achievement lower this semester than in previous semesters? Were you unable to get through your material? While reflecting and identifying areas that need improvement, I can’t stress how important it is not to dwell on any of it. There are external variables that can skew results in a given semester; if your achievement scores are lower, but are typically constant, the class dynamic could have been the driving force. By focusing on the positives while still acknowledging needed improvements, you can take a healthy approach to professional growth.
If you would like to use a template for these reflections, you can download this form that I have used for my own classes.
So, make your reflection lists, check them twice :), and prepare to return in January recharged and ready to start a new semester!