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3 things you need to do before July

john dewey

Seriously? It’s the middle of May? Already? There was snow just a few weeks ago and today kids all over are in final countdown mode. But before you close the door on 2016-2017, there are three things you need to do.

So in no particular order:

You need to reflect

As professionals we have an obligation to reflect on a personal level about our own best practice. Constant improvement is a good thing.

I would always try to spend time reflecting at the end of the year:

  • What went well?
  • What went wrong?
  • How can I integrate more historical thinking skills?
  • How can I use more fiction and nonfiction sources?
  • What was my favorite moment?
  • What was my worst moment?
  • What content should I add / eliminate for next year?
  • How can I make my rubrics more effective?
  • What did I learn about teaching this year?
  • Next year I would like to do more ____.
  • Next year I would like to do less _____.
  • Next year I would like to try _______.

You need to collect some student feedback

But my own reflection is just one point of reference. And we know how incomplete any sort of administrative evaluation can be. Some excellent mentors eventually convinced me that feedback from my customers would be a good idea, that a good student evaluation can help in my reflective process.

So I started talking more with my kids, both informally throughout the year and formally at the end. Questions about the classroom environment and arrangement, did I provide enough time for projects, how well did I respond to student questions, did I create a friendly learning climate, what strategies and activities worked best, what sort of communication works best, more or less technology and what they liked / disliked in general.

Need a bit more rationale for this?

Try an article, Why Kids Should Grade Teachers, from The Atlantic that discusses the power of student feedback. You can find the Measures of Effective Teaching research mentioned in the article here and here. And you may not agree with all of it. I get that. But the idea still makes sense to me. Kids spent months in my classroom – their perspective is important in helping me understand the impact I’m having on them, good and bad.

And while you’ll need to take the information with a grain of salt, you also get some great feedback and insightful comments.

I’ve attached a couple of quick samples. Feel free to adapt them for content / age levels and to use Google Forms or Survey Monkey for this

You need to keep your kids focused

How can we engage our students to the end? I know some of you actually finish up tomorrow while others go into June. So if still have weeks to go, Carol Hunter has got you covered.

  • Make sure that your kids never believe the test is the end. They must know that the end or goal is their personal academic, social, emotional and physical development.
  • Rather than winding down, we should focus on synthesizing the year’s learning into highly-engaging activities. Now is a good time to empower students to make a difference. Now is the time for individual or group projects that will have an impact on their school, their local community or the global community.
  • Use the last few months of school to let your students shine. Let them lead. Our middle- and high-school students love to think critically. Allow them to find and solve big problems. Help them make a difference.
  • Lead them to understand that their personal growth does not stop in June. Guide them to set goals for the summer. Kids who are making a difference never disengage.

Need some specifics?

Head over to Scholastic’s exhaustive list for 43 ways to end the school year.

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