“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.”
— Anonymous

The best leaders are continually self-reflecting on their skills and successes and identifying opportunities for improvement. Teachers who wish to offer their students the most effective learning opportunities should also engage in the process of self-reflection. Use the summer months to reflect on what went well during the 2019-2020 school year, and where you might be able to evolve your teaching modalities, organizational skills, or approaches to student engagement to facilitate even better academic outcomes.

Three Questions to Help You Reflect Upon the Past School Year

How well were you able to adapt in the face of change, challenge, and uncertainty? No conversation about the 2019-2020 school year is complete without a reflection on the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools across the country closed in an unprecedented response to the federal government’s pleas for every American to do their part to help flatten the curve. While every district may have taken a different approach to continue education, based on access to technology, every teacher still needed to adapt to help students continue learning even after schools closed their doors.

#1 – What worked for you during this time, and where did you struggle?

Did you try to learn new online engagement tools like Google Classroom, Blackboard Learn, or Zoom? Were you able to organize your lesson plans to send assignments electronically to parents? Did you keep in frequent contact with students and parents, or did you feel disconnected and isolated? Ask yourself if you could benefit from continuing technology education, a new approach to assignment organization, or more concerted outreach efforts as you plan for next school year.

#2 – How well did your students perform?

Analyzing student performance in the 2019-2020 school year may look different than it ever has before, especially if your district moved to a pass-fail evaluation method, or if your state canceled standardized tests. Still, you likely have at least half a school year’s worth of grades to consider. With what subjects or topics did students struggle? What projects, assignments, or team collaborations did they enjoy most, and which made them feel apathetic? Ask yourself what other methodologies you could leverage to improve comprehension for troublesome topics, and what assignments you could rethink to enhance enthusiasm and engagement.

#3 – How connected were you with parents and guardians?

This past year tested every teacher’s communication strategy. What did yours teach you? What methods were most successful for sharing homework assignments, progress updates, and classroom news with parents? Email, phone, mailed letters, your school’s learning management system, or something else? How much time did you spend following up with parents whose schedules made connecting challenging? How could you better accommodate these one-offs without burning yourself out with outreach attempts?

Every experience—positive and negative—teaches us something valuable.

The 2019-2020 school year will always be remembered for its pandemic disruption. Still, it can also be the year that you were put to the test, and you emerged a more confident, prepared, and disciplined instructor.
With this framework in mind, how will you remember this past school year?

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