Opinion
Education Opinion

Reflecting on a Year of Learning

By Elena Aguilar — May 07, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The end of the school year can feel like a mad dash for the finish line as we wrap up projects, PD strands and coaching cycles. I want to encourage you--strongly and enthusiastically--to carve out some time for yourself during this period to reflect on your work this year: on the impact you had on individuals, teams, organizations, the learning you experienced, and the growth you made. This reflection is invaluable because it usually leads to insights about how you worked and what was effective, insights into who you are and your strengths and areas for growth, and insights into what’s next--into how to direct your time and energy into the highest leverage, most impactful areas. The pace of our education world these days is frantic and I know there’s so much to do for next year, but don’t succumb to the madness. Draw a boundary. Insist on your right to reflect and therefore learn and grow.

How To Reflect: Write, Talk, Draw

Ok, so let’s say you’ve carved out the space--ideally, a day--what do you do in that time? Here are some ideas.

There are two primary ways that we process our thoughts--through talking and writing. The act of articulating our experiences pushes us to focus, synthesize and make meaning of otherwise seemingly random events. Think back on your year. If it was like mine, it was a blur of meetings, people, places, feelings, thoughts, readings and writings, tasks and activities. If we leave our experiences in that jumbled state, we’re not likely to learn much from it. Those experiences won’t inform where we go next or what we do.

Some people like to talk more than they like to write; some like to write more than talk. Most of us benefit from a mixture of activities. Find at least one other person who will engage in this reflective process with you (a team or small group is ideal--but if you can’t find anyone else, reflect anyway). Write, talk, write some more, talk some more.

And then consider throwing some art into the mix. See if you can represent your experiences visually. You can think about creating a journey line of your year or generating symbols that reflect your impact or learning. There’s no right or wrong with art--just see what happens if you put some colored pencils or markers into your hand and try to visually represent your year. Stick people are totally acceptable!

What to Ask Yourself

I have lots and lots of suggestions for questions that can prompt reflection. Many of these I offer in my book in the chapter on professional development for coaches (see page 284-85). You can also find those questions here, on my website. In addition, here are some more questions to ask yourself about this year End of Year Reflection Questions.docx, this summer, and next year. My intention with these questions is to prompt you to plan and prepare for next year--so that next year is your best year ever!

I just spent a day with a wonderful group of secondary coaches in Salem, Oregon, guiding them through a reflection on their year. A common reflection at the end of the day of reflection was “I hadn’t realized how much I did or learned,” “I really needed that! I had no idea how badly I needed this time to reflect,” “I’m so much more excited about next year now. I think I’ll be even more effective, and therefore, help more children.” I hope you enjoy a few of the images of the work they created--and happy reflecting!

The opinions expressed in The Art of Coaching Teachers are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP