Reflecting in May to Plan for August
As school is winding down for the year, it is the perfect time to reflect and plan for next year. What worked well in your classroom this year? What didn’t work? What needs to be tweaked and what needs to be abandoned?
Asking yourself these questions now will let you make some plans for next year while school is fresh in your mind. It will also allow you to relax and enjoy your time this summer.
David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, explains that our brains don’t stop focusing on things we have to do unless we write them down and make a plan. I know my mind works this way. Whenever I make a list of things to do, I generally leave off stuff I have to do every day like take the dog for a walk. Until I take our dog for a walk, it is always in the back of my mind.
The trouble with things “in the back of our minds” is that we can’t use that space for other activities, and we can’t fully relax. If I had put “take the dog for a walk” on my list, my brain would let it go because I had a plan for tackling that task.
What does this have to do with reflecting on your year? If you are like me, you have already started thinking about next year. You have a ton of ideas swirling around your head about what you want to do differently. You also haven’t taken the time to write anything down. You will spend all summer mulling over your ideas, and when August hits you will have some foggy ideas of what you wanted to change.
Let’s stop this cycle by downloading everything right now. Get out a piece of paper or a notebook and a pen. Answer these questions. You can use complete sentences or a list format.
What worked well this year?
What tweaks do you need to make for next year?
What needs to be redone entirely for next year?
How are you going to teach math next year?
How are you going to teach reading next year?
How are you going to teach writing next year?
How are you going to teach grammar next year?
How are you going to teach vocabulary next year?
How are you going to teach science next year?
How are you going to teach social studies next year?
What will your behavior management system be next year?
How will you communicate with parents next year?
How are you going to track student data next year?
These are a lot of questions. You don’t have to tackle them all at once. When you do answer a question, note what you already have and what you need to get or make.
Once you have answered all of the questions, make one list of everything you will need for next year that you already have. This list will help you stay organized while you pack and unpack your classroom. It will also be handy when you are making your more detailed plans for the year. (A post on this topic is coming soon!)
Next, make a list of everything you need to get or make. This list should come home with you over the summer, so you can make sure you have everything you need when you go back to school.
Your list of things to make might feel overwhelming. If this is the case, you need to break each item down into bite-sized pieces. David Allen recommends making your steps ridiculously small, so you will be more likely to do them.
Now, when all the other teachers come back to school frazzled and overwhelmed, you will be able to put the finishing touches on your classroom and plans calmly. You will have also had a more relaxing summer because once you put your ideas down on paper, your brain can relax. You won’t be thinking about school unless you choose to think about school.
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