June is a crazy month for those of us in the business of growing little humans. But if we want to move forward with PBL, it is important that we take the time to reflect on our craft. Grab that cup of coffee (you know you want it!) and take 5 minutes to reflect. What did we do well? and What can we do better? are critical questions that we must carve out time to ask ourselves – and perhaps one another – if we want to grow as teachers. This month, the CraftED blog is exploring the value of teacher reflection. Stay with us for simple strategies to help you reflect during your busy day, and for secret tips on how reflecting can be the key to a more rejuvenated, relaxed summer than you’ve ever had before.
But I’m Relieved the Year is Over! Why Bother Reflecting?
When we first start out in our teaching profession we are forced to be reflective-we have to submit lesson plan reflections, we receive feedback from our mentor teachers and we are frequently observed and evaluated by our leaders. It’s intimidating and it’s exhausting, BUT it’s also when some of our best growth happens. Then, as we settle into our profession, reflection becomes less frequent and it’s easy to switch on “auto pilot”. But I’m here to tell you our growth edge can’t happen in this space. You’re here, on this blog, because you care about growing as an educator. So let’s do it!
The Part Where I Convince You It’s Worth Your Time…
I do get why this happens, though. In the midst of the whirlwind of the school year, we rarely have time to pull back from the grind long enough to take time to be reflective about our practice. In the scheme of prioritizing what HAS to happen and what would be nice to happen…well, reflection comes in that category of “I would totally do this if I had 3 arms, a clone or 38 hours in a day”. I get it! But if you look at the Greats, regardless of industry, you will notice a common thread that ties them together, and that’s the ability to look within and ask the hard questions. Believe it or not, your lowlights from the past school year could make next year your best ever. You can look to your train wrecks to either 1) “abort mission” next year or 2) get to the source of why that lesson plan or project bombed and improve it for next time. Oftentimes my biggest #teacherfails turned out to be my biggest wins the next time around. Yes, it is 100 percent easier to do things the way we have always done them, and no, it’s not fun to say “where did I fall short?”, but the ability to look inward is the first step to take to get you from good to great in your classroom. As you wrap up your year, and while it’s fresh in your mind, NOW is the time to hurry up and slow down. Now, let’s get to reflecting:
Ask simple questions
Being reflective doesn’t require a ton of time or have to include an intense effort! You can do it while you’re driving to the store , folding laundry or going for a walk. Check out my favorite reflection questions (pictures featured), from CraftED’s PBL Pep Talk Card Deck. The best simple questions can still lead to complex thinking.
As you wrap up the year ask yourself some simple questions about what went well this year and what could have been better. Use this checklist for Teacher Reflection to help you with this reflection! Use your response to those questions to generate some specific goals for yourself next year. You don’t have to act on them now, you just want to capture your thoughts, lessons learned, and opportunities while they’re top of mind.
Take 10 minutes to do this today, and your future self will thank you in September!
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