Author: Dawn Mitchell
Congratulations for making it to Winter Break! What dedication, perseverance and growth you have shown this school year!
You will soon have an extended opportunity to rest and rejuvenate, to sleep in and to stay out late, to spend time with your family and friends, and to take time for yourself after investing everything you had into your students.
You will also have an important opportunity to reflect on your teaching experience so far this first year. You will have the necessary time and space to consider what worked and what didn’t, and what changes you want to make so that you and your students can begin the learning process again, better and stronger.
Many of you shared that you want to work on improving classroom management. I want to strongly encourage each of you to revisit the procedures you created at the beginning of the year for classroom management and intentionally work to refine them.
As you reflect on your existing management practices, ask yourself what worked/what didn't. What new procedures do you need that maybe you didn't think of at the beginning of the year such as transitions between subjects, contributing to class discussions, procedures for group work, etc.?
Also consider how you will communicate these new procedures to students. Think about how you will specifically reinforce them through positive recognition as well as addressing off task/negative behavior and redirecting it.
I also want to share with you a helpful reflection resource from The Creative Classroom Blog that I have used as inspiration for my students in the past and have found it works across grade levels, from elementary to high school. The author encourages students to reflect on their journey through a 4-3-2-1 reflection format that asks them to consider:
4 Memories that Stuck With Me
3 Accomplishments That I Am Proud Of
2 Things That I Need To Work On
1 Goal That I Still Want to Achieve By The End Of The Year
I also really like her open ended questions that you can use with your students to help provide you with feedback to improve your instruction.
A favorite lesson (this would allow me to identify trends among student responses and identify what made these lessons a success with students).
A least favorite lesson (this would allow me to identify trends and identify what caused these lessons to not be popular or favorable with students).
The specific things that we did in class that students felt helped them to grow and be successful.
The specific things that students felt could be revamped or improved.
Please take time first to rest and to renew your body, mind, and spirit. You have earned this much needed break and time provides opportunities for introspection and reflection. Take some time the first week of January to reflect and revisit your classroom management as well as any other areas of practice you want to improve. This will allow you to come back to your classroom in January ready for a new year and a new, fresh start.
South Carolina ASCD President