In my latest TD bulletin (the one which also inspired me to blog about my “first class of the year”‘s!), in the “Food for thought” section, I offered teachers a number of reflective questions to help them think backwards to last academic year AND forwards to the one that lies ahead:
How did last academic year go for you?
What went well? What two things are you most proud of? Why?
What two things did you do with your students last year that you would do differently this year? Why?
What new things did you try? Why? How did it go? Will you use them again this year?
What new things are you planning to try this year? Why? What effect do you hope they will have?
How do you hope to grow as a teacher this year?
So, I thought I had better answer them myself! (Edit: I started, and then term kicked off. Now in week 2 so still early enough days to merit getting round to finishing and publishing!)
1.How did last academic year go for you?
I have already answered number 1 here – a post about the various things I felt I’d achieved during last academic year, with a positive slant to counteract the normal negativity bias that the human mind proffers. It’s just as well I did, as though I have only been back 4 days, there was also an intervening 4 week break, so last academic year seems an awfully long time ago already! For the rest of this post, I am going to focus on the teaching portion of my job here (rather than the TD coordination or ADoSing!).
2. What two things am I most proud of?
- The improvement in my students’ performance over the academic year, knowing that I did everything I could to help them along that path.
- That I pushed myself to try new things in the classroom rather than just staying in my comfort zone.
3. What two things did I do with my students last year that I would do differently this year and why?
- I finished my lessons generally with productive activities. The way I want to change things up this year is to allow more time for feedback/reflection/evaluation afterwards – both in terms of the given activity and the lesson as a whole.
- I used listening logs with them. It worked well and their feedback at the end with regards to using them was positive. But this year, or at least for this term as in January I will be pinged into to January start student classes due to my January cohort ADoS role, I have much lower level students. So I still want to use them but I want to give students more guidance, make it more scaffolded.
4. What new things did you try last year? Why? How did it go? Will you use them again this year?
- Doing a short mindfulness meditation with the students at the start of every lesson. I did this for two terms, and their feedback at the end was very positive around focus, concentration and relaxation (in opposition to stress). I did it because I’d learnt about Mindfulness myself and come across lots of research to suggest it is helpful for students as well. I will definitely be continuing!
- Using Quizlet live with students in class to review vocabulary. It worked really well with my foundation students, as they were a) fairly young (I know not a necessity), b) generally a bit knackered (lots of studying in all their subjects) and c) responded positively to the bit of geeing up that Quizlet live provided. I used it to liven up vocab review, motivate students, wake them up a bit, change the pace of the lesson. I will keep using it but I want to also work more on getting students to use the sets independently as well.
5. What new things are you planning to try this year? Why? What effect do you hope they will have?
- I want to encourage growth mindset use so I am planning to incorporate advice from Chia’s EtP article about it into my teaching and read around it from other sources with a similar goal too.
- I want to incorporate a range of flipped learning opportunities more consistently as I believe it will really help my learners to access the course content more successfully.
6. How do you hope to grow as a teacher this year?
- I want to make use of all the tools, techniques, materials and methodologies at my disposal to ensure that my lessons help students get as much as possible out of them. This is in terms of content, how I deliver that content, lesson structure, incorporation of mindfulness-linked strategies, metacognitive strategies, encouragement of growth mindsets and more. This term I have a lower level group and a mid-level group, so a different set of challenges to the high-level group I had for a few terms last year.
- I am also going to be participating in a peer observation programme, so I hope to gain new ideas from those I observe and insights from those who observe me, to enhance my practice.