Reflecting on Your Teaching Year

Photograph by Jeff Woodward.At the end of another school year, it’s tempting to count the days left, wave goodbye to my class, pack up my room, and mentally check out for the summer. I’ve earned it, haven’t I? But as the year winds down, I’m reminded that many of the end-of-year activities I do with my students incorporate some sort of reflection on the year:

  • What did you enjoy learning about the most this year?
  • Did you achieve the hope and dream you set for yourself in September?
  • What will you remember most about third grade?

We encourage our students to reflect on the year and their growth, so shouldn’t we as teachers do the same? Whether you’ve had a challenging year, a dream class that you know you’ll remember for years, or a year of ups and downs, I encourage you to reflect on the following things:

  1. Celebrate the successes
    When you look back over the year, what stands out? Whether it’s the amount of academic progress your students made, a personal connection you made with a particular student, a specific lesson or unit that went better than it ever has before, or something new you tried for the first time in your teaching, take the time to acknowledge your role in those successes.
  2. Appreciate the struggles
    One year I had a particularly challenging class. I worked all year on trying to find solutions to the issues that were affecting our classroom community. I planned Morning Meeting activities to try to build student relationships, used role plays to teach how to respectfully interact with each other, and held problem-solving conferences and class meetings with students. At the end of the year, I was tired—but I realized that in tackling the class issues, I had strengthened my use of these teaching practices and added even more tools to my repertoire.
  3. Set a goal for next year
    I had a third grader this year who constantly used the phrase “next time” when she reflected on her work. “Next time I want to try writing a story with more characters,” “Next time I think I’ll add more labels to my drawing.” Reflecting and setting a “next time” goal is an important part of professional growth. Did you try something new this year that you want to refine next year? Do have an idea about how to teach a concept differently next year? Do you want to put your focus on a specific area of your teaching? Take a moment to envision what you’d like to do “next time.”

So while you count down the days and pack up your classroom, appreciate all that you’ve accomplished this year. Enjoy the well-earned break and know that when you come back for a new school year in the fall, you’ll bring new knowledge and insights you’ve gained.


Suzy Ghosh is a second grade teacher at Bush Hill Elementary school in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is also a Responsive Classroom consulting teacher.

Tags: Last Weeks of School, School Breaks

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