20 Questions To Reflect On Your Teaching This Year So Next Year Is Better
by Terry Heick
I don’t know how your school year is going and/or ‘went’ (depending on when you’re reading this).
Maybe it was amazing. Maybe you think it went amazing and it wasn’t. Maybe you think it went poorly and it was really amazing. Maybe you think it went poorly and it did.
Maybe all of these adjectives aren’t nearly sufficient to evaluate the performance of what is, increasingly, one of the most complex (and often thankless) jobs in the public consciousness today?
So here’s a quick post–some questions to help you reflect on this school year so that you can head into the summer with\ a sense of ‘what just happened.’
How can you grow this summer to make next year easier? Better? More fun? More efficient? More grateful?
- When were students at their best this year? How did the year go, and how do I know?
- What did I think was going to go well, but maybe didn’t? What was a complete waste of time? What can I learn from that experience? Should I tweak it and try it again, or just take an idea from that experience and use it in a different way?
- If I was watching a time-lapse of me teaching all year–a year-long, fast-motion video–what would I notice myself doing the most? What about students? Do these need tweaking? How? How can I save time as a teacher?
- What are the characteristics of a ‘high-performing classroom’? How is mine similar? Different? How should I respond?
- What do I tend to underestimate and overestimate as a teacher, and how does it affect my effectiveness?
- What do I tend to ‘look for’ as a teacher, and how does that affect my teaching? What do other teachers ‘look for’ and what can I learn from that? (What other perspectives and data points and classroom management strategies and relationship-building strategies, etc.)
- What are the indicators of great teaching in your mind? What is your personal teaching philosophy? Can it be reflected on and revised to better serve your teaching and the learning of your students?
- How are teaching and learning changing, and how should my own pedagogy adapt as a result?
- What are three key moments with students this year that stand out for me more than any others, and why?
- What are three key moments with colleagues this year that stand out for me more than any others, and why?
- How do I know I’m spending my very-finite time and energy doing the ‘right’ things as a teacher? What experiences from this year can help me answer that? How specific and actionable things can I do to improve how I use my time inside and outside the classroom?
- What is one ‘big idea/thing’ I can focus on this summer to grow as a teacher? Or maybe two or three smaller things? (See also TeachThought Professional Development for more ideas and specific workshops.)
- What do I hope students remember from this year next year? In 20 years?
- What do I do well, and how can I make the most of it to grow students that can think?
- Of the things that I don’t do as well, which are most worth my time to improve?
- What can I automate in my classroom? What are the tools to do so? What are the goals of the automation (i.e., increased efficiency, saved time, personalized learning for students, etc.)?
- How can I empower students to make my job easier while also strengthening them as thinkers and doers?
- What am I most excited about for next year? For example, which learning models, technologies, grouping strategies, teaching conferences, collaboration opportunities, project-based learning ideas, etc., are going to be ‘fun’ for students?
- What should I be more grateful for as a teacher, and how might that gratitude help me grow? Where do I ‘beat myself up’ as a teacher but need to stop? Where do I ‘beat myself up as a teacher’ and need to respond and grow?
- What can I do as a teacher to change the lives of students, and how can I do it even better next year?
- What do I do that makes teaching fun for me? What do I sometimes do that can make feel teaching unsustainable for me? How can I learn from each?