Acknowledging success and identifying areas for development
‘Study without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without study is dangerous.'
At some point in any school year, usually more at its conclusion than any other moment, most teachers will consider what they need to ditch and what they can revamp when it comes to lesson ideas and teaching strategies. This is not about reinvention, more about redevelopment, And as an exercise in professional learning, this is practically second to none. It's worth focusing, when you can, on the following areas of consideration:
- Acknowledging success: What worked for you this year? What went really well? Allow yourself to recognise just how brilliant your ideas and their execution really were! Create a list of techniques, resources, ideas and so on which you will definitely be using again in the new academic year.
- Identifying areas for development: What, from what you did and used this year, would you want to adapt to make it better fit your aspirations as a teacher? Is the way you are currently working an accurate reflection of the way in which you see yourself as a teacher?
- Focusing on knowledge: How is your subject knowledge and expertise? Any areas which challenge your confidence?
- Whole-curriculum dimensions: Can you enhance your approach to whole-curriculum dimensions of education? What have you done this year that has been particularly effective in developing your pupils' experience of an interconnected and meaningful curriculum?
- Keeping an eye on relevance: Are there ways of developing the relevance of what you have done with your classes this year? Perhaps through the use of technology (either more or less) or by exploring collaborations with other staff members?
- Targeting targets: Whether they are targets for teaching or for your own professional learning, how effective have your activities this year been at reaching them?
- Spotlight on engagement: It's a really tough question to ask yourself, but how engaged do you think your pupils were this year? How engaged were you? Do any fluctuations tally? It's perfectly natural for that to happen!
- Learning from parents: Did you have the opportunity to learn from the parents of any children that you teach with specific additional needs? Is this something that could be facilitated in the new academic year? Schools which have such schemes set up do tend to report positive outcomes for relationships and the building of specialist knowledge within the school.
- Focus on efficiency: For the areas you have identified as needing your attention, where will you go for information? While it's tempting to go for the very latest research, do take that in conjunction with some pedagogic wisdom from the past. You never know what gems you might unearth. Writers like John Holt are still incredibly relevant!
These are just some ideas for getting this process started. But as with all potentially significant learning, asking the simple questions can be the catalyst for sophisticated reflection and transformative developments in practice.