Making Plans to Help Improve Your Teaching in the Next School Year

You made it! Another school year, not just completed, but survived! Every school year coming to an end provides us with an opportunity to grow as professionals. It is essential to celebrate the end and use your experiences to make plans to help improve teaching in the next school year.

Photo of free reflection page with text, "Making Plans to Help Improve Your Teaching in the Next School Year."

Looking Back to Look Ahead

There is nothing quite as satisfying as a year of teaching neatly wrapped up and delivered with a bow. As much as you'd love to jump into vacation mode, this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the year, so you'll be in a better position to start the next one!

I've completed more than 20 school years and know how easy it is to close the door and not look back. The problem with doing that is when the fall rolls around, and you're thinking about the new school year, the previous year feels too far away to connect with clearly.

Do yourself a favor and take an hour to sit at your computer and really reflect on this year as it comes to a close.

Photo of "Reflecting On This Year" worksheet and colorful pens.

What do you want to stop doing?

Let's start with what didn't turn out the way you'd hoped. What do you want to stop doing in the next school year?

Consider things like:

  • Classroom routines that didn't go well.
  • Lessons or projects that failed.
  • Taking work home on the weekends.
  • Spreading yourself thin by volunteering for every task that needed help throughout the school.
  • Spending your own money on classroom supplies or materials.

What do you want to start doing?

Think about ideas you had throughout the year that felt like they really needed to be introduced at the beginning of the year. Did you toss them because it wasn't the right time, even though you loved the sound of them? Did you see a great idea in a coworker's class or in a teaching group online that you might like to try?

Consider planning to start:

  • New routines to change how part of your day or week felt last year.
  • A new focus in a unit or lesson.
  • A different way of lesson planning.
  • New strategies for collecting assessment data.
  • Organizing the physical classroom space differently.
  • A new program or unit that you've never tried before.

What do you want to keep doing?

Sometimes there are parts of your year that feel really great. You look back at that and say, "Yep. That worked. It worked exactly how I hoped, and I'll definitely do it again." What are those things?

Be sure to think about:

  • Routines
  • Lessons or units
  • Organization
  • Special days or events
  • Strategies for staying on top of marking, filing, parent communication, etc.

What do you want to do more?

Occasionally there are parts of the year that stand out for positive reasons, and you could make the next school year better by doing these things more. This might take a little more thought compared to the first parts of the reflection, but consider:

  • A particular teaching strategy that went well at some point in the year that you could use more often.
  • Ways that you could tweak the routines you plan to keep to include them more often as part of your regular practice.
  • Things that made your classroom Covid-friendly might make sense to continue even after the pandemic is over.

What do you want to do less?

With a bit of time to think, I can always come up with things that I feel I did too often or too much of. What might have taken up more time last year than it should have taken or needed to take?

  • Can you do less marking? Why not consider taking work up as a group or only marking a sample of the work instead of the entire thing?
  • Can you cut down on idle time through the school day to make your day more productive? Do you catch yourself chatting with a coworker at the photocopier when you could be tackling the planning that you'll end up taking home?
  • Are there parts of your day that you are doing tasks the students can do for themselves?

Looking Ahead to Improve Teaching

After thinking back and documenting your thoughts, you should be in a great position to close the book on the last school year and enjoy your summer. When your brain turns to the task of preparing for the upcoming year (hopefully not too soon!), pull out this reflection and use it as you strategically plan all the parts of your day!

I've created a fillable reflection page for you to use as you work through this looking-back process to improve your teaching in the next school year. Grab a copy right here:

Have a safe and restful summer! You deserve it! I would encourage you to explore some self-care routines like keeping a journal during your time off! You'll set yourself up for success in the next school year!

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Photo of "Reflecting on this Year" worksheet with text, "Making Plans to Help Improve Your Teaching in the Next School Year."

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