Reflecting On the Past Year and How to Move Forward

9:00 AM

Happy summer, friends!

I hope you are finding some time to relax this summer! But I know that your teacher mind probably hasn't completely turned off, and you are anxiously making plans and preparing for next year.

I get it - I'm the same way! And while I'm a firm believer in taking time for yourself, I also understand that planning for next year is a form of self-care. If you're the same way, then this post is for you!

One of the best ways to prepare for next year is to take some time to reflect on the past year. Thinking about what went well, what didn't, and what needs to be improved will help you go into next year feeling confident and ready for your best year yet.

What to Reflect On

This summer, take some time to sit down and really think about how the past year went. Obviously every class is a little bit different, but evaluating your general systems and processes can help you make needed adjustments for next year. 

In order to get the most out of this time, pull out a piece of paper and make 3 general categories: what worked well, what didn't work at all, and what needs some improvement or re-evaluation. Then, start writing down your ideas for each category.

Classroom Management & Routines

First, think about your classroom management and routines. Go through every system and process you have, and put it in one of your 3 categories based on how well it worked or didn't. Here are some specific ideas of routines to reflect on:

  • Morning routine
  • Lining up/walking in line
  • Management of materials
  • Transitions
  • Bathroom breaks
  • Cleaning up
  • Dismissal
  • Independent work
  • Group work
  • Small groups/centers
  • Turning in work
Also make note of anything that you don't already have a routine in place for, but should. 

Classroom Organization

Next, think about the set up of your classroom and how your materials are organized. It is important that materials and papers are easy to find and that everything has a place. Reflect on whether the organization in your room is effective or not. Some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Am I easily able to find important papers?
  • Are student materials easily accessible?
  • Do students know where to find materials?
  • Do the storage systems I currently use work well?
  • Is anything broken or in need of replacement?
  • Does everything have a place?
  • Do I know where to find everything I need?
Based on the answers to these questions, categorize these things on your list appropriately.

Time Management

Are you as a teacher managing your time well? This means two things - 1) during instructional time, you stick to the schedule and arrive on time to specials, lunch, etc. and 2) you are able to accomplish most of your tasks such as grading, making copies, etc. during the day and able to leave school at a decent hour.

Take a minute to reflect on both of these issues and categorize them on your list appropriately.


Lastly, take some time to reflect on your teaching. What lessons worked really well? What lessons didn't? Since you teach so many lessons during the year, you don't need to categorize EVERY lesson. However, definitely make note of the ones that REALLY went well and the ones that REALLY didn't. The rest can go in the "Needs improvement" category, since they weren't revolutionary, but also weren't a complete failure.

Next Steps

Once you've got your list, now it's time to apply it to next year. The "Worked Well" category means you don't need to do anything, and will keep everything the same for next year. The "Needs Improvement" category means it's working but could be better. You can choose to set that list aside and tweak as needed during the year, or go ahead and make some adjustments now. It's up to you.

The "Didn't Work" category is the one you really want to focus on, though. Go through each item in that category and brainstorm how you can improve in those areas. Specifically think about why it didn't work last year, so that you can really get a good focus on what needs to change.

I hope this has been helpful to you as you reflect on your school year and plan for next year! I hope you have a wonderful, restful summer!

by Kayla @ The Average Teacher

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