On May 30th, Ruth Ayres, at the Two Writing Teachers blog, posted an end of the year reflection post. Here are her words that spoke to me in her intro to that post:
So I’m going to complete just a handful of statements, with the purpose of growing in my understanding and practice.
1. I learned…
2. I was stretched by….
3. I am excited about…
4. I’m beginning to realize…
I wrote a response quickly, in the comments, but these prompt beginnings have been in my mind since then. Now that I’ve been finished with school for a week, I thought it was a good idea for me to return to my rather hasty answer, and reflect a bit more on the year.
My original comment is black. What I added is red. See if some of these reflections fit your own experiences.
I’ve been reflecting alongside those with whom I work lately, too, Ruth, & talking about next year, finding that people reflect so differently, so your prompts are helpful & possibly would have helped last week, too. I changed some of the planned questions as I spoke with colleagues & adjusted. I found that when I spoke with those teachers with whom I work, it was difficult for them to reflect during those final weeks of school. They were simply too busy, too immersed in the final weeks of evaluation, having more than one goodbye celebration, ending portfolios, and so on. This summer I need to plan for ways to reflect when teachers are more relaxed, in a frame of mind that will open their minds and hearts for looking at the past to see what worked and what didn’t. And then look at possible changes that make sense at the beginning of next year.
I learned that planning ahead is good, but it helps to be resilient also when, as is said, life happens. There is always a later time to do a meeting. I hope to set a schedule next year for everyone with whom I work, and then if it doesn’t work I can be flexible. I tried to change for everyone last year, but that way involved so many e-mails or me finding someone to check about a meeting. Our school does do things more spontaneously at times, but structure helps too.
I was stretched by a big challenge in my life and knew that I could get through it by taking steps slowly & surely. This did help me find a positive path to navigate some very crazy days. When there are quotes that say things like ‘don’t do it alone’ and ‘ask for help when you need it’, I would say don’t ignore the advice. Asking for help along the way was critical to my survival during this challenging time, and it continues to be helpful, although not as much as earlier.
I found a quote by Lena Horne that I printed out to read every day: “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.”
I am excited about new ideas that I want to implement professionally for next year, have talked with some about them, & will talk to everyone else soon! I have been asked to increase my hours in order to work with all the teachers, youngest to oldest, next year. I am excited and plan to emphasize the teaching of younger students in some of my professional reading this summer. I am also planning to begin a study group for one day after school, so far unstructured until those who choose to join decides the priorities of study. I hope to read some about facilitating this kind of group this summer as well. Finally, I am also advising three interns and their mentor teachers this coming year. They teach at our school, but are participating in a program at another independent school that runs a teacher-licensing program. I’ve done this before, but never three at a time, so it will pose some new time challenges. I am excited because it’s fun to work with educators in other schools. I find I learn quite a lot by those interactions too.
I’m beginning to realize that I cannot be all things to all people, but need to choose sometimes. It’s a difficult realization, but also helpful. Like my writing for my blog, I’m trying hard to have it be more focused, particularly on writing--teaching writing and writing for myself, which also informs my teaching. I cannot do all the things that sound good; although there are times I wish I were three or more people. And I have quite a few personal things to do this coming year, and those too will need to be highly prioritized.
I hope this expansion of Ruth’s wonderful and challenging prompts might be a challenge for your own reflections about the past year.
Thank you Ruth for helping me post today!