Reflection Questions to End the School Year [Interactive]

[0:23] I’m going to be talking about the teaching practice of reflection and how we might apply that practice over our summer break. Many of us have a place on our current lesson planning document to reflect on each specific lesson and now over summer break, it’s time to try our some big picture reflection. This habit pushes us to grow as professionals and to be intentional about expanding ourselves and our teaching practice.

What went well this school year?

[0:50] First, I think about what went well for me this year. Where did I really knock it out of the park with my teaching? For me, this was a change in my morning routine and that made my whole day go smoother.

What worked well for students?

[1:02] Next question – What worked well for my students? What had the greatest meaningful impact on my students and is there a way to replicate this idea other times during the year or with different grade levels?

What system can I change to have a significant impact?

[1:15] Then I questioned, what is a system that I can change that would have a significant impact? Here I’m questioning routines, things I’ve done seemingly forever. For example, after reading about how another teacher ended their class, I really began questioning my end-of-class routine at the time I’d stopped the activity and say, “Time to line up”. You can imagine the chaos of students fighting over who was first in line, students asking to leave the gym to go get water, and here’s how my reflection changed the end of class.

[1:46] First, I determined that I needed a drinking fountain in the gym so students could drink water whenever they were thirsty. So I went to our local lumber yard and asked if they would be willing to pay for a fountain and its installation in return for a permanent thank you sign posted above the water fountain. They loved the idea and so now students can get water whenever the music is playing because then I’m not in direct instruction.

[2:12] Then I heard a PE teacher talk about what really happens in the line: Social positioning, arguing over who stands next to who and I realized there was a couple of reasons why I don’t like this. I work hard to ensure that the gym is always a socially and emotionally supportive environment. However, that was all just shot out the window at lineup time. I also couldn’t have closing conversations with students who are completely distracted by the social world of lining up. The solution was easy. Students line up by their heart rate monitor number.

My Last Two Weeks of School

[2:46] Another practice I really examined in this reflection process was how I might better maintain positive relationships with the outgoing students. I’m not sure how outgoing students are at your school during the last two weeks, but sometimes at my school it feels like touch and go. Upon reflection, I identified most of my time during that last two weeks I felt frustrated with these students and I realized I really needed to shake things up.

[3:10] Enter novelty, my last two weeks with the outgoing class is now spent with quick and crazy activities that require minimal instructions and usually lots of group cooperation and I can praise them about how clever they are to figure out a strategy for the game or how wonderful they are to work so well together.

[3:29] This is definitely helped with managing exit class behavior issues and allowed me to maintain the positive relationships that we’ve developed.

[3:36] Where has summer reflection led you? I’d love to hear about the successes you’re savoring and the changes you hope to make for next year. Summer provides such an awesome opportunity for a fresh start. Let’s just continue to make each fresh start better than the last!

3 Responses

  1. Do you have some examples of those crazy novelty games you do with the out going students. This sounds like a great idea I might try next year.

  2. My students favorite, by far, is a game called Escape Alcatraz. We play this in the cafeteria because it can get darker than my gymnasium. Students are on two teams. Each team is trying to spell a five letter word using magnetic refrigerator letters on the exit doors. Students start on one end of the gym. I am positioned with a big flashlight near the exit doors at the opposite side to the start, and between us are eight big trash barrels. Similar to a search light I move the flashlight slowly from side to side. We start by dimming the lights, students pick up one magnetic letter and using the trash cans as hiding spots they try to make their way up to the front of the playing area without the flashlight “tagging” them. As soon as a team’s first player moves from the first barrel the next teammate may begin. If students get tagged, they exit the playing space at the closest side and return back in “return lanes” to the beginning. The return lanes and the rule you may not travel backwards, keeps students from bumping into each other. We play multiple times with just one bank of lights off to practice the rules of the game, and safe moving. Once teams are moving safely and following the rules we continue to dim the lights. The cafeteria doesn’t become completely dark, but dark enough that the students can really “hide” from the flashlight.

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