Anticipating the Joys of Summer
The last few weeks of school seem to be some of the busiest of each year. Maintaining high levels of student engagement can be challenging and the temptation to take it easy is ever-present. Yet, I would offer that opportunities for learning and reflection exist yet this year for students and teachers and that taking advantage of such opportunities propels all involved into summer from a more positive place. I offer three suggestions in the following blog post that were inspired by reading the work of other educators.
Engage students in reflecting on their learning. Supporting students to think in specific ways about all they have learned in your class this year may be surprising to them! This review may help students in preparing for an exam if that is the tradition at your school, but more importantly thinking and talking about their learning helps students to make it their own. Ideally, this reflection would not be left for the end of the year, however it may leave students feeling accomplished and confident with a sense of closure as they prepare for the summer break. In addition to reflecting on past learning reflection can lead students to think forward about how their learning might apply to other contexts or about goals they might set. Edutopia contributor Rebecca Alber presents three ideas for student reflection in the article, 3 End-of-Year Reflection Strategies for Students.
Reflect on your own learning as a teacher. Just as students are reflecting on all they have learned, teachers too should spend some time reflecting on their own learning over the course of the year. In the emotional exhaustion that often accompanies the end of the school year, finding the energy to accomplish this task may seem unlikely but I would argue that it is just the right time. Most of us spend time thinking about all the things we would like to do differently, but in addition to this, it will be helpful moving forward to think of all the things that went well. Spending a little time taking a mental inventory of practices worth keeping as well as those to be changed could be productive. I was inspired to think in a different way about end of year reflection after seeing this blog post by a sixth grade teacher. She had taken the opportunity to think about what she had learned from her students. Can you think of two or three important lessons you learned from your students this year?
Think purposefully about how you will spend your summer. Though most of us have a long to-do list and family obligations, don’t let the tendency to move from event to event rob you of the opportunity to refresh and reflect. Well known professor and author Carol Ann Tomlinson discusses ways we can all make the most of our own summers. She discusses taking time away, learning something new, as well as thinking specifically about our own teaching practice and the ethical considerations that call us to make the decisions we make. I encourage you to read her article Architects of Summer. When considering changes to your teaching practice check out resources in the SEED PAK. You can find resources such as the ones in this blog and many others organized by Teacher Quality Standard, topic, and academic standard.
As we all anticipate the joys of the summer to come, thank you for your work this year with the students you serve. This quote from Todd Whitaker expresses my thoughts well, “The best thing about being a teacher is that it matters. The hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every day.” Teaching is an awesome responsibility! Be sure to take the time you need to reflect, relax and rejuvenate!
The SEED PAK is a source of free professional learning opportunities teachers can access at any time. It offers a section in which resources are linked to questions to help encourage reflection. Teachers in the Northwest Colorado BOCES can earn recertification credit. In addition, every resource completed between June 1 and September 1 of 2017 earns an entry for a $25 Amazon gift card.
Alber, R. (2016, June 01). 3 End-of-Year Reflection Strategies for Students [Web log post]. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/3-end-year-reflection-strategies-students-...
Marshal, H. (2016, February 25). THREE THINGS I HAVE LEARNED FROM MY STUDENTS [Web log post]. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from http://www.middleschoolmind.com/the-teachers-blog/a-very-prestigious-awa...
Tomlinson, C. A. (2013, June). Architects of Summer. Educational Leadership, 70(Online), 8-12.