Hi! It's Kate from Kate's Kodaly Classroom. I have been a little bit absent from the blogging world recently, but am so glad to be back on the Kodaly Corner!
If you haven't read Karla's latest post for surviving the end of the year, make sure to check it out! There are so many great ideas and reminders for surviving the wonderful and incredibly chaotic time of year!
The end of the school year is one of my favorite times of year for so many reasons... kids and teachers are excited for summer vacation, celebrations are happening left and right, field days, performances, graduations... it really is a wonderful time. It is also around this time of the year that I make a conscious effort to reflect. I believe that reflection is one of the most important things we can do to grow and develop as teachers. I know that our schedules in May and June are JAM PACKED, but I truly believe an hour with a latte and a notebook can make a huge difference in your professional development and growth. So, for my post today, I am going to share with you some helpful hints for (drum roll, please!)...
Step One: Celebrate
Just about every teacher I know works incredibly hard all school year (and summer- let's be real) long. So, before you develop a list of "I could have" or "I wish I would have," take a few minutes to celebrate the "I did." Chances are you did A LOT of amazing things this school year- whether it was surviving your first year teaching, connecting with that one student that you struggled with, or finally cataloguing you choral library- so take a few minutes to celebrate your victories.
- What did I teach that my students loved?!
- What did I teach that I loved teaching?!
- Did I inspire or connect with a student or students in a new or meaningful way?
- Did I have have any great collaborations with colleagues? Parents? Community members?
- What went really well?
Step Two: Evaluate
If there is anything I have learned in my eight years of teaching, it is that we are learners first and teachers second. I continue to find new tricks and new ideas to use in my classroom on almost a daily basis! With the constant change, it's important to evaluate what is a "keeper" and what you might consider changing in the future.
As I reflect on the school year, I try to break it up into a few different areas. Here are some of the areas I try to give some thought to...
Concepts and Instruction
- What concepts did I teach really well?
- Are there any holes in my instruction or sequencing?
- What concepts do I need to spend more time/effort on?
- Do I need to develop any manipulatives or teaching materials?
- Were there any activities that my students respond well to? Any that they didn't?
- Which performances went well? Which didn't?
- Did I have enough time to prepare for performances?
- Were there any themes/programs I want to keep? Any I want to change?
- How did my performance schedule work? Were any times of the year TOO busy? Can I make any adjustments?
- What did I improve on as a teacher this year?
- What professional development/professional learning was really meaningful?
- What kinds of professional development and growth do I want to pursue in the future?
- How did I handle my life/work balance? Did I use time wisely? Could any of my effort be better spent elsewhere?
Being honest in assessing your school year is a great way to prioritize your goals looking forward. Which leads me to the last step in my process...
Step Three: Look Forward
I could probably write a 100 page list of things I would like to improve on as a teacher. It's easy to get overwhelmed or even disheartened by the never-ending "to-do" list. So, I really try to set achievable and reasonable goals for myself. I find that this helps to keep me motivated and inspired throughout the year, and it also feels really great to be able to check something off the list.
Here are some ideas of ways you can keep it simple, but still set meaningful goals...
- Find one concept or unit you want to improve on. Build up your song library for that concept, make a set of post-office or other manipulatives that you can use to teach it, develop an assessment or find a great worksheet you can use during your teaching.
- Create one professional growth goal. Whether it be improving your knowledge/use of technology, attending more workshops, or finally creating a library of all your children's books, come up with one goal you think you can achieve in the coming school year.
- Fix one problem. Teaching is definitely trial and error. No matter how much we plan, there are bound to be things that don't go well. See if you can identify one problem from this school year that you can correct next year.
At the beginning of each school year, I write a list of "hopes and dreams." Sometimes, it is as simple as "leave before 5:00 more" or "give at least one student a day personalized feedback" and sometimes they are bigger things like "finish all my rhythmic flashcard sets" or "learn and include more folk dances in my instruction." I love the feeling at the end of year when I can say "I did it" and ask myself "what's next?!"
During the insanity that is the end of the year, try to find a few minutes to go grab a latte or a lemonade and reflect. I promise it is time well spent.