End of Year Reflections

 

The arrival of summer signals the end of the school year across the northern hemisphere. Restless students, ready for adventures outside the classroom, and instructors who cannot wait for rest and relaxation are counting down on calendars. And because everyone shares this excitement for the coming break, the importance of end-of-year reflections can sometimes be overlooked. Here are a few ways that students and teachers can meaningfully look back on their school year and end their academic calendar with both gusto and gratitude.

For Students in K12 and Higher Ed

  • Advising next year’s class. Getting Smart suggests offering students of any grade the chance to mentor the rising class. This gives them the opportunity to reflect on and share what they learned and loved in that grade.

  • Reflecting in writing and in conversation. Whether in small groups or independently, students can answer questions about their school year and think about how they’ve grown, what challenged them, favorite moments, and that which they are excited to experience. Edutopia offers the following reflection questions (in addition to a few other meaningful activities!) for students at the end of the year:

    • What have been some of your most important learning this year?

    • What have been some of your favorite experiences and learning this year?

    • How might you be able to apply what you learned this year in the future?

  • Reflections and concluding activities can be thoughtful AND fun. Some teachers host an Academy Awards ceremony where students dress up and are presented with “Best of” trophies. Other classrooms have created YouTube videos for their future selves, offering advice and insight. Organized Classroom has cultivated a list of the top 150 activities that will help you to end the school year with a bang.

For Instructors and Admins

An end-of-year party is well deserved and much appreciated by faculty. However, taking a few minutes as a group to reflect on the year and set up for a successful summer of professional learning, is well worth the effort. Independently, in small groups or as a whole staff, instructors can answer reflection questions like these:

  • What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?

  • What are some things you accomplished this year of which you are proud? How did you grow professionally this year?

  • When was a time this year when you felt inspired by the work that you do? Conversely, when did you feel frustrated or challenged and how did you overcome that?

Also, admins should be cautious about coupling end-of-year feedback with celebrations. Sometimes, a fiesta can color the moment in a way that affects the authenticity of faculty feedback. Many recommend conducting reflections prior to the party and being purposeful in structuring and proctoring the feedback session, so it maintains its focus.

Whether you’re an admin supporting instructors these the final weeks, or a teacher motivating students during the final days, it’s worth setting aside time to breathe, reflect, and think about how far you’ve truly come. Happy end-of-year to all of you!


Additional Resources:

 Edutopia offers additional ideas for the end of the year.

 Scholastic thinks about how looking back helps you to go forward.

 Teachers need reflection questions, too!

 Getting Smart and Ask a Tech Teacher both have 5 ways to make the end of the school year great!