Journey of Growth: Reflection on a Year of Teaching

Discover how reflecting on your teaching practices can enhance your effectiveness and professional growth, setting you up for an even better school year ahead!

When I began my teaching career, I was averse to the expectation of actively reflecting on my lessons. To be vulnerable for a moment, I felt I was above the practice. However, through several humbling experiences, such as repeatedly trying bad lessons and struggling with behavior management when the lesson was boring, I realized the true value of reflection as a best practice for teaching.

I hope you are not like me as a novice teacher. I hope you have already seen the value in reflecting on your lessons and on the past school year. In “Reflective Practices: A Means To Teacher Development,” we learn that “being a teacher, one needs to reflect on the experiences or activities one is doing for one’s growth” (Mathew, Mathew, Peechattu 130). In another study, researchers found that teachers who engaged in reflective practice ultimately “contributed to their professional development” (Oracki 140).

The turning point for me, besides boring lessons and behavior issues, was when I assumed the roles of PLC leader and department chair. Now, other teachers counted on me and my content expertise. I didn’t want to bring shallow lessons to the group; my lessons needed vigor and vitality. Suddenly, reflection became crucial. That was over a decade ago, and I still use reflection in my daily life by journaling and implementing it seasonally through scheduled reviews. It has helped me become a better technology coach, supported a healthy work-family balance, promoted mental health, and kept me anchored to my “why.”

So during end-of-the-year projects or that fun movie you show your classes, take some time to reflect on the past school year. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Write down five glows and grows from the school year. Glows are lessons or activities that went well; grows are areas that could use improvement.
  2. Survey your students or co-teachers to see what stood out to them during the school year. Be vulnerable and ask if there were any times they were bored or unfocused.
  3. Take a “walk” through your school year by looking through your lesson plan book or calendar, and note what went well and what didn’t.
  4. Look forward to the next year by noting the must-do lessons that you want to repeat from the past year.

Tuck your reflections away somewhere in your classroom where you will see them come August. You will thank yourself for the head start on a great school year!

Works Cited:

Mathew, Priya, et al. “Reflective Practices: A Means to Teacher Development.” Asia Pacific Journal of Contemporary Education and Communication Technology, vol. 3, no. 1, 2017, pp. 126–131. 

Orakci, Senol. “Teachers’ Reflection and Level of Reflective Thinking on the Different Dimensions of Their Teaching Practice .” International Journal of Modern Education Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, 2021, pp. 117–145. 

Kristen Strickland is an ITRT in Chesapeake Public Schools and an eMediaVA Ambassador.

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