Today is the last day of the academic year. On Monday the school summer courses will begin but that’s next week and it’s Monday’s problem – for now it’s enough to know that we have survived another year without too many problems.
A week ago, we had our end of year wrap up session – talking everybody through all the end of year paperwork, reports, handover notes, choices for the following academic year and the like. As part of that our Director of Studies asked us to take a moment and reflect on the last nine months of teaching – and asked us to look at a 12 item questionnaire to help us do that.
Now I must confess to a certain amount of cynicism in these matters. I’m better at analysis than reflection and I find questions that ask me to think about the last time I felt joyful or inspired quite difficult to answer. How, for example, do you define “joy” and are we talking inspiration generally or the degree of inspiration over the baseline level that I normally work with?
But for what it’s worth, I thought I’d share some of the questions and my answers to them.
The questions that we were given came from Raquel Lynette’s “Minds in Bloom” website and the post: “20 Teacher End of the Year Reflection Questions“. I’ve gone back to that post to select five questions that I’m going to include here:
- What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
- What is something you would change about this year if you could?
- What is one way that you grew professionally this year?
- When was a time this year when you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?
- Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to be a teacher if you could go back in time and make the choice again? If the answer is “no,” is there a way for you to choose a different path now?
What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
Thinking about this academic year, it’s been quite a busy one personally and professionally. My son was born last October and helping my wife with both him and our daughter has been challenging – huge fun at times, incredibly stressful at others and mostly just very very tiring. I was very pleased with some of the feedback on my MA assignments earlier this year and if I’d finished writing my dissertation by now that would be my biggest accomplishment – but I haven’t so it isn’t. Yet.
I’ve also been very pleased by some of the reactions to posts I’ve published on this blog. Blogging can sometimes be lonely, in the sense that you don’t always know whether what you’re writing has value or has a positive impact on people, so getting feedback and reading and responding to people’s comments is always good.
What is something you would change about this year if you could?
This year I’ve been teaching a group of 10/11 year old beginner students. It has been very challenging and frankly, I haven’t enjoyed it very much. What I would change is the approach to the class that I took. Having now spent a year together I have a much better idea of who they are and what they are capable of, so this is possibly only hindsight, but if I did it all again I would think much more about what boundaries I wanted to set with them and I would write those down and keep a copy handy to remind myself of what they are. I’d incorporate a much more complicated behavioural routine system with them and apply it consistently.
These are all things that I know I should have done anyway – they aren’t revelations – but I do wish I’d started out on a better footing with that group.
What is one way that you grew professionally this year?
This year I’ve been involved in running the International House Certificate in Advanced Methodology course, in a sort of secondary tutor role, and I’ve really enjoyed doing it. The course is a quite comprehensive overview of ELT and current pedagogical thinking and it’s reminded me of a few things and taught me a few things – I hadn’t, for example, come across ecolinguistics before.
It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in a teacher training course and I think running the course has helped me think about my own teaching in a different way.
When was a time this year when you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?
The cynical answer I gave to this question was 1st August 2011. But in fact, it would probably be most afternoons or evenings. I’ve been lucky in that my classes have been nice this year, CAE, CPE and Advanced Conversation – all higher level groups and so the level and content of conversation is fantastic. We have been able to talk about a massive range of topics and issues, some lessons have been approached in Dogmesque way, some in a more TBL approach. I’ve been able to try new things out and while some of these fell flat, others flew. There have been lessons and conversations where I’ve come out of the class buzzing with the exhilaration of the debate – hopefully some of this has been communicated to the learners as well! But these lessons have been fun and, by extension, these have been the times when I’ve felt “joyful” and “inspired”.
Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to be a teacher if you could go back in time and make the choice again?
I don’t think it’s the teaching that most teachers have an issue with. Most of the things I read or hear suggest that most teachers would be really really happy in their jobs if only everybody else would just leave them alone. It’s not the teaching that gets people down, it’s everything else that goes along with it. But that aside I’d still make the same choice again!
So that’s my five reflections on the last academic year – what about yours? Why not take a look at the 20 Teacher End of the Year Reflection Questions on the Minds in Bloom site and choose your own five reflection questions to answer?