It’s Summer – But Before You Relax, Reflect!

The 2015/2016 academic year has just ended, but before you fly off to a beach or the spa, take some time to reflect on the year.

It’s easy to put off your reflection until August, when you are gearing up for next year. But, by then you will be in that post-vacation dreamland where your brain, courtesy of cognitive dissonance, will have reshaped/misremembered all of those details you wanted to work on.

So, before you plant yourself on that Adirondack chair, crack open the laptop and start reviewing the year – as it actually happened.

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What behaviors drove you crazy?
  • What routines need tweaking?
  • What new anchor charts do you need to hang up in your classroom?
  • What new desk configurations should you consider?

One thing that drove me mental this year was my classroom “going to the washroom” routine. I like students to leave the room without having to raise their hand and ask – especially if there is a good discussion going on in class. I hate having a great conversation/experience derailed when someone raises their hand and asks to go to the washroom. Instead, I have students sign themselves out and take the class washroom pass with them. This also serves as a great tracking mechanism to see which students are overdoing it with washroom visits. Anyhow, I spent some time at the beginning of last year going over the routine with the students. I explained it. I acted it out. We rehearsed it. I explained why I wanted the procedure in place – in detail.  I even included the procedure in our first warm-up quiz of the year. And yet, week after week, students would raise their hand (even during important discussions) and interrupt the class with a washroom request.

I will spend some time this week re-thinking the steps I took to see how I can ensure students really internalize and adopt my washroom routine. But, if I had waited until August, this situation would have slipped my mind, maybe even until the very moment I was introducing the routine to my new students.

Even if you don’t really come up with definitive and fully-developed solutions/changes, it is valuable to note down the issues that plagued you and some rough possible ideas. Then, when the new school year gets closer (and those annoying “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” commercials start running) you can relook at your ideas and flesh them out when the urgency of the new year increases.

Remember, there are two yous: current you and past you. Current you usually is really annoyed with past you, because past you got lazy – leaving current you with a mess to deal with. Be good to current you. Before totally collapsing into your vacay routine, set aside some time to reflect on your freshly finished year, while it is still fresh in your mind.

Hi 5 and have a GREAT summer!

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