The school year is winding down, summer is highly anticipated, and educators are experiencing reflection and
desiring rejuvenation. Here are a few suggestions to make this process purposeful and successful.
- What was meaningful for you this past year? Did something make you happy, or satisfied? Look back in your planning book or journal and decide what you want to keep or enhance.
- What enthused students the most? When were they the most creative or successful?
- What did you do to make a difference in students lives? Look at thank you notes written by parents, colleagues, principals and especially students to validate your efforts. How can you continue to make a unique difference in the lives of your students? (Keep a yearly file of special notes given to you, this becomes a “happy place.”)
- Take care of your body through purposeful diet and exercise, and get restful sleep. Teaching is a physically demanding occupation, taking care of your physical self is crucial.
- Your mental and emotional self needs down-time too. There are several things that can help you destress such as yoga, meditation, and the outdoors. Do what works for you.
- Refocus on the positives of the job to create anticipation for the upcoming year, this will help you come backrenewed and refreshed.
Knight, S., EdD. (2017). The Heart of a Teacher:6 Ways to Refresh, Refocus and Rejuvenate [Web log post]. Retrieved May 9, 2019, from https://www.gcu.edu
Zakerzewski, V., Ph.D. (2012). Take This Job and.... Retrieved May 9, 2019, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/take_this_job_and
Congratulations! You made it to the end of the school year! During the craziness of the final days, it is important for teachers to take a moment to reflect on the past year and begin to plan toward the next. There are multiple ways teachers reflect. Elena Aguilar, an instructional coach in California and author of The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation (Jossey-Bass, 2013), shared an article with Education Week titled Reflecting on a Year of Learning (2014).
Aguilar suggests two ways we reflect are through talking and writing. "Some people like to talk more than they like to write; some like to write more than talk. Most of us benefit from a mixture of activities." She encourages teachers to find someone to reflect with (possibly a school team), and as you reflect to use talking and writing to expand your ideas.
She also suggests teachers can draw out their year and map it from beginning to end visually using art. Reflect on the whole year and design symbols or pictures to show important events.
Need help getting started? Here are some questions to ponder and begin the reflection process:
- What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
- What did you try for the first time this year that was successful?
- Which student in your class showed the most improvement? Why did they do so well? What did you do to help them?
- What caused you the most stress this year? Are there things that can help eliminate that stress or make it more bearable?
- What things do you plan to try differently next year? What support might you need? Is there someone in your building or district that can help you?
The end of the year for new teachers brings with it many feelings of excitement and apprehension. As mentor's working with our faculty we can help build a knowledge base by informing and reminding our teachers of the following items:
- Discuss the end of the year procedures: graduation, locker clean out, book check-in,field trips, etc.
- Discuss end of the year procedures for teachers: turning in books, keys, preparing classroom, etc.
- Discuss concerns and student motivation
- Discuss stress relief
- Discuss the schools policy on student retention and the procedure for recommending that a student repeat a grade if necessary, remind of parent notification guidelines in your school.
- If your Mentee does not get renewed for next year, offer support, possibly a letter of recommendation, help them to be reflective and prepare a resume for the job search.
- Work with the Mentee to compile a list of the most worthwhile activities and topics to use next year.
- Encourage Independence with your Mentee:
- Discuss items they would not repeat next year, and make notes for planning with a year end self assessment and help him/ her get a head start for next year.
- Review the budget or items the teacher will need to turn into the Department Chair if applicable.
- Discuss professional development opportunities in the summer they may want to participate in.
- Recall the reflection phase of teaching and discuss with the Teacher Mentee
- Discuss and compliment the Mentee's growth this year
- Assist with common practices in getting the classroom ready for next year in your building.
- Discuss the transition to the next year. Will there be a new mentor? Will you be there next year to Mentor?
- Remember to update your Mentor spreadsheet
- Recognize and celebrate the successful moments, and the end of this year with your Mentee.
Questions For Reflection
- What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
- What is something you tried in your classroom this year for the first time? How did it go?
- What is something you found particularly frustrating this year?
- Which student in your class do you think showed the most improvement? Why do you think this student did so well?
- What is something you would change about this year if you could?
- What is one way that you grew professionally this year?
- Who amongst your colleagues was the most helpful to you?
- What has caused you the most stress this year?
- When was a time this year that you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?
- What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?
- In what ways were you helpful to your colleagues this year?
- What was the most valuable thing you learned this year?
- What was the biggest mistake you made this year? How can you avoid making the same mistake in the future?
- What is something you did this year that went better than you thought it would?
- What part of the school day is your favorite? Why?
- What were your biggest organizational challenges this year?
- Who was your most challenging student? Why?
- In what ways did you change the lives of your students this year?
- What professional development do I need to participate in during the summer?
This is a suggested guide to help new teachers know how to map out their provisional years.
1st Year Teachers:
*Collaborate with your mentor
*Effective Teacher Training
*District Professional Development Classes (based on departments)
*Pass the Praxis PLT (if you feel ready!)
2nd Year Teachers:
*Pass the Praxis PLT (all level teachers--recommended to be done by this year)
*District Professional Development Classes (based on departments)
*UEN Classes/Endorsements (all level teachers--if you feel ready)
*ESL, Reading, Math, STEM, Ed Tech, Gifted and Talented
3rd Year Teachers
*Pass the Praxis PLT (should be completed by this year for license purposes)
*2 Hour Suicide Prevention Training (can be completed any time during the 3 years)
*Upgrade to Level 2 License (see http://mentor.jordandistrict.org/eye/licensing/)
*UEN Courses/Endorsements (all level teachers)
*ESL, Reading, Math, STEM, Ed Tech, Gifted and Talented
*University learning opportunities (BYU (CITES), UVU, USU, UofU, etc.)
For extra help with licensing, check out the EYE Brochure through USOE.
This time of year can cause stress and anxiety for teachers as they anticipate changes that will be coming in the next year. But, change isn't always a bad thing, especially if we learn to cope with it. There are various things that can be done to adjust to change and to make it an easier transition. Take these ideas into consideration:
- Be flexible. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. At these moments, recognize opportunities in new situations and seek for a learning opportunity. What can you learn from this change?
- Stay positive and be proactive. Get rid of the "what if" feelings and think positively. Keeping a journal of positive things each day can help to keep those thoughts focused. Don't forget to keep your sights on the most important part of your job: your students. Keep them in mind as you plan.
- Take care of yourself. Don't forget to keep balanced and take a minute for you. Whether that be eating healthy, exercising, taking a nap, or just reading a book, take time to rejuvenate and keep your body healthy. By taking care of yourself mentally and physically, you can face challenges as you cope with changes.
- Develop positive relationships. Are there teachers on your team feeling the same way? In your school? Work together to be supportive to one another. Plan and PLC together. Collaboration can help make change transition smoother.
- Reflect on positive things you've done before. You've made changes before. Reflect on how you overcame those and focus on those strengths you have to get through.
Sometimes, change can really hurt our mental well being. If at any point it gets to where you may need more help, don't be afraid to ask for it. Our district has help through Blomquist Hale Consulting where you can get free help 24 hours a day. Their number is 1-800-926-9619.
Change is real. We face it every year. New students, new curriculum, new bosses, new classrooms...change happens in education. Keep in mind though, change helps us get better, and through change, we can continue to grow as educators.
What other things do you do to cope with change?
Around this time of year, coaches and mentors may hear versions of this statement as teachers begin their end of level testing and end of year activities. "Don't bother coming in, I'm testing. You won't see any teaching."
At first, we may believe it when we say it or hear it. Testing doesn't always use a lot of instructional strategies, exciting delivery instruction, or intensive management. It definitely wouldn't be what you would want to do for a professional evaluation. But, quite contrary to our thoughts on "seeing nothing..," an observer will be able to see and conclude a lot from watching a teacher administer a test.
Jim Dillon, in his blog post Voice of the Educator: Invisible Learning, talks of an experience with a teacher he was coaching. She was doing individual assessments on kindergartners at the end of the year. He stayed and watched her class for a half hour anyway. And his takeaways were big.
- Students learn from everything around them and from each other, not just from a teacher.
- Learning is not just a cognitive experience but involves emotions and the social context.
- The teacher’s role is to provide the right conditions for learning primarily by creating a safe and supportive environment.
- A strong and trusting relationship between student and teacher is the foundation of a safe environment.
- A teacher needs to learn about the interests, strengths and needs of each student in order to create the right conditions for learning (Dillon. "Invisible Learning").
Each of these components are things that are not always observed immediately--but are essential to learning taking place. If things are running smoothly during an assessment, we can tell a few things right off. The teacher has taught expectations for testing, the students know the rules and procedures for that time, and if the students are independently working--they will know the appropriate management routines for that time as well. If there are some inconsistencies in these, that will be evident as well.
So next time you hear, "I'm just testing, there's nothing to see..," reflect on that thought and see if you can identify where good teaching is still happening. You might be surprised.
Dillon, Jim. "Voice of the Educator: Invisible Learning." Smart Blog on Education. 21 Mar 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
As you end the year, here are some suggestions from Scholastic:
- Buy next years supplies now
- Clean what can't be seen
- Take pictures
- Create a setup box
- Classroom library
- File cleaning
- Draw a room diagram
- Clean, bag, and tag
- Create task cards for students
- Cover it
- Label, label, label
Enjoy your time off!
Keeping learning alive and classroom management in tact through the end of the school year is, of course, our number one priority as educators in the spring.
Six important end-of-the-year considerations outside of classroom duties:
Though the protocol is slightly different in each school, the following are items to be aware of as you wrap up the year. Ask your mentor, team leader or department head how you can assist with this task.
- Book Inventory – Check to see what books need to be counted.
- Cleaning – Wipe down countertops, desks and chairs, then stack the furniture as the custodian directs.
- Summer Building Schedule - Ask for the summer building schedule and when/if you will have access to your room.
- Grades- Check to see if the last quarter grades are dealt with differently.
- Student Files– Find out what needs to be filed.
- Checklist - You may have already received a "year-end checklist" from your office. If not, it will be coming soon. Start completing an item a day to ease the stress of the last week. You'll be glad you did.
Don't hesitate to ask for help and clarification. Knowing the information beforehand can help you prepare well and avoid potentially frustrating and time-consuming surprises.
The last day of contract: ZIP up your bags and ZOOM home.