Hello and happy Saturday. If you’re here today, there’s a great chance you’re a teacher, and if you are, this is the right post for you. I want to talk especially to new teachers, teachers who recently changed grade levels or subjects, or teachers who struggle when it’s time to plan, especially when yearly planning. I started reflective planning during my first year as a teacher, and I can’t even begin to explain the relief I felt having done this when I went into my second year.
Basically, reflective planning means looking back at each lesson after I’ve taught it and taking notes so that I can start building my yearly planning for the following year. It sounds exhausting, but if you’re organized and have a system, it isn’t. Plus, did I mention it will save you a lot of time and effort the following school year?
I adapted this from what a university teacher told us once about action research. He advised us to record ourselves teaching and then look back at what we saw, take notes, and research based on that. Now, this is way more simple thank that, but the idea remains.
The picture on the left is of the monthly planner I was given by the school for 2019-2020. I would jot down the main event or idea of each lesson, to have a clue about what was done and to make it easier to look back. Now, this is not how I planned my lessons at all. I used Google Calendar for that, and I can show you if you’re interested, just let me know in the comments. Again, this is more to give me a clue after the lesson, not before it.
At the end of each lesson, I would write the date and a sentence describing what we did. Here, I would emphasize the changes I made to the lesson because that would give me a clue when planning for the following year.
I can give you several examples of changes I’ve had to make for my lessons, and if you’re a teacher, I’m sure you’re familiar with them. The most common one is related to the allotted time for each activity. If students finish it too quickly, then maybe it means it was too simple and I need to add more steps or make it more complex somehow. Maybe I can add another activity to that lesson. If it takes longer than what I’d anticipated, then I need to consider this because it might mean that towards the end I’ll need to skip a lesson altogether. Modifying lessons may also have to do with the resources available, the way the students work (in small groups, individually, etc.) or even the end result.
Reflective teaching has led me to be more aware of my students’ strengths and the strategies they use for learning, as well as the ways I can help them success. It has helped me get to know my students better and accommodate to their reality when lesson planning. It has also enriched my lessons since I can draw from past experiences, implementing what worked and changing what didn’t. If you haven’t already, give it a try, and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Love, Miss Camila