Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reflecting on the Past School Year (And preparing for next year)

I'm done with my school year. I have all seniors and they finished their finals yesterday. Graduation is on the 17th and the 18th is the last day of school. As I sit here having finished all my grades, I start to reflect on the past year. What worked? What went right? What went wrong? How did I handle classroom management issues? How well did my students learn? Lots of questions to answer and get ready for next year. I do this throughout the year too, but this is the point where I can really plan and make changes for the following year.

One thing I do to as an evaluation of the year is to have my students fill out a survey about the class and their experience. It asks them to rate things such as was the classroom and equipment (labs and projects) adequate, was enough time given for demonstrations and review, how well did the teacher answer student questions, and their thoughts on assignments and work given. It also asks about me: did I set a climate that was conducive to learning, did I effectively communicate with students, did I address their needs and issues, and were the teaching methods effective. I also have space for them to write comments about what they liked about the class and what they think should be improved. They can put their name on it or it can be anonymous.

I do take the surveys with a grain of salt. Some students write all "4" (highest score) and some complain that everything was too hard. But I do get a lot of great feedback and ideas. Some times I am surprised by the level of sophistication that I my students have and how insightful they are about their classes. (I've also used this model with pre-service teachers).

After I've read through all of the surveys and taken notes, I sit and think about the whole year. I try to be critical of things so that I can really evaluate how things went. I am going to implement some of the things I've come up with and some of the things my students noted, but I am also going to keep my lessons flexible so that I can modify them once I've met my students next year and see what they are like and what they need. I believe in constantly assessing how I am doing as an educator and how well my students are learning and changing and modifying things as needed throughout the year. The end of the year and summer are great times to come up with lots of different ideas so that I have a collection of ideas to use next year.

Ongoing Assessment is a term we use in EMS for constantly monitoring our patient and changing our treatment as needed based on the patient. This is also something we do in education. We change things to meet the needs of our students.

Next year I'm going to utilize the classroom blogs and Google Forms to get more feedback from the students throughout the year. I'm also looking at different ways to assess their learning more often, and have a toolbox of ideas and lessons to use when I have to change things up or modify things.

As I write this, I keep having thoughts about issues I've had and how to change them next year. I'm also thinking about the type of teacher I am and what I can do to improve my attitude and persona to make me better. I think one of the things I'm going to do this summer is watch a few movies about teachers (Lean on Me, Freedom Writers, Stand and Deliver) for motivation, and keep active with my PLN (Personal Learning Network) to share ideas, thoughts, and resources. I want to come back to school next year enthusiastic, motivated, and ready to have some fun while educating. I want to make sure I am ready to be the best educator I can be. The only way to do that is to be prepared and constantly evaluate the teaching and learning in my classroom and modifying it as needed.

How do you evaluate teaching and learning in your classroom? What do you do at the end of the year and summer to prep for the next year?


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