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How To Reflect On Your Year by Judi Fenton

I recently received the following e-mail:

Hi Judi,

Just wondering if you have any resources for teachers to reflect on their professional practice at the end of the year. If you know of any websites or resources, I'd be very grateful to hear from you.

Many thanks,

Following are some reflection techniques. I use the writing prompts to reflect on my own school year.

Writing prompts:

  1. What do you feel went well this school year? What role did you take in making it go well? What role did your students take in making it go well?
  2. What was a challenge for you this year? What didn't go as well as you had hoped? Why was it hard? What will you do differently next year and how will it make you a better teacher?
  3. How do you feel you've grown this year? To what do you attribute this growth?

If you've been working on a specific topic all year, you should make the questions more specific. If you are reflecting with a group, share with a partner or in a triad, maybe chart some overarching themes, and then have a whole group discussion.

Success Analysis

A success analysis protocol is a positive way to reflect upon your year. It helps us to examine and celebrate successes and look at why they were successes. (What role did we play in making them successful? What supports did we have? What circumstances existed? etc.) This protocol is taken from (with a bit of adapting) the National School Reform Faculty website.

  1. Reflect on and write a short description of a success in your work within the year. Note what it is about the practice that made it so successful. Be sure to answer the question, "What made this work different from other experiences?"
  2. In groups of 3, the first person shares their success and why it was so successful.
  3. The rest of the group asks clarifying questions about the details of the success.
  4. The group does an analysis of what they heard about the presenter's success and offers additional insights about how this practice is different than other practices. Probing questions are appropriate and the presenter's participation in the conversation is encouraged.
  5. The presenter responds to the group's analysis of what made this experience successful.
  6. Take a moment to celebrate the success of the presenter.
  7. Each of the other members of the group takes turns sharing their success and what made it is so successful, followed by clarifying questions and the group discussion analyzing how this practice differs from other practices.
  8. Debrief the protocol as a whole group. Possible questions: What worked well? How might we apply what we learned to other work? How might students use this process to reflect on their work? What adaptations to this protocol might improve the process?

Chalk Talk
I also love doing Chalk Talk. I recently did this with a group of new teachers asking them, "What were you most surprised about during your first year of teaching?" I also did it at a school to reflect on what teachers felt was most useful in terms of their professional development this year. You can ask any question you want to focus on and it's a nice way to reflect on the year in a group.

There are so many ways to reflect on the year, please e-mail me with your ideas and we'll get them up on this site!

See also:

Making a Practice of Reflection by Judy Jones


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