Three Questions to Ask Yourself at the End of the School Year

It can sometimes be tempting, as the school year wraps up, to simply push through, finish your remaining tasks, and head into summer. We can all relate to counting down the days—but it’s important to take a little time to reflect as the year ends. Endings are a good time to assess how an experience has gone for you, so that you can synthesize the many things you’ve learned, gain closure, and set goals for the future. Below are a few questions you might consider as you wind down the school year.

  1. What are you proud of this year? Try to think of at least three things you feel have gone particularly well this year. These things may be related to your job as a teacher (you finally got through to a particular student or you saw your student’s test scores increase in a particular area). Also think about things that went well outside of work (you developed strong friendships or you explored your community and took advantage of some of the things it has to offer).

Think outside the box. While it is easy to focus on our jobs, there are many areas in our lives that we develop over the course of a year.

  1. How did you do with self-care? By this time, our mantra about self-care is likely beginning to sound like a broken record, but we’re willing to bet if you look back on the past year, you can find times when taking care of yourself took a hit. You can use time during summer to reflect on how lapses in self-care influenced your quality of life, and think about strategies going forward to ensure that it’s is a priority for you.

Perhaps you could use this summer to kick-start a regular exercise regimen. Or spend some time learning to cook fast, healthy meals or pick up a new hobby. Whatever it is, balancing work with self-care will improve your effectiveness as a teacher, and you’ll just plain feel better.

  1. Did you spend time doing what you value? What do you value most? Take some time to think about this. You might value friendships, family, being a great teacher, your physical health. Now think back to how you spent your time over the past year. Did you spend all your time worrying about lessons, grading, surfing Facebook, watching TV, hanging with friends? How much of your time did you actually spending doing the things you value?

If there’s a gap between what you actually did with your time and what you value, reflect on why that is and ways that you can increase the time you spend on what you value. Shifting how you spend your time, or finding ways to use your time more efficiently, may be needed. This may also involve prioritizing some things you value over others (e.g., finding time to spend with friends instead of reaching perfection on all your lesson plans).

As you evaluate how your year went and how you can improve over the next year, it might end up having an impact on your teaching effectiveness. Happy teachers make effective teachers. Have a great summer!

Photo credit: Flickr