Showing up. Because it matters.
In the last few days of the school year, it’s easy to become relaxed and to “loosen up.” It’s also tough to engage our students in new content and new lessons when they, themselves, are ready for a break. Students might feel like “it doesn’t count.” And, technically, it might not for the grade book. However, we need to model that it always counts. If we aren’t engaged with our students, in reflection, in helping them set goals for the next year, in team building – if we don’t model that it matters, if we don’t show up, how can we set those expectations for life and career for our students? It’s an opportunity for making learning personal, for team and relationship building, and for students to explore something of interest. Try something new. Show up. Because our students matter.
The concept of “How” do I …?” is often a discussion for educators and students. “How do I … ?” fill in the blank … “solve this word problem,” “write this conclusion,” or the thousands of examples in which teachers explain, model, and demonstrate for students how to do something. As we close the school year, perhaps we show students how to “reflect on the year.” I would agree that the “How?” of learning is possibly one of the most important skills. Students need to learn how to learn and develop metacognition. With our help, they can develop perseverance, develop grit, and work through the struggles and failures of learning. However, I believe we must start with “Why?” and finish with reflections about their “Why?” This is probably the most important aspect to model and discuss with students. This year, we were proud to see our students in all of our schools set and work towards personal goals. The teachers and students are certainly reflecting on those goals as we approach the end of our school year (and some are possibly setting new ones for the summer and for next school year).
Here are some ideas to finish the year strong:
- Lead reflective discussions (perhaps use Pear Deck since teachers control whether responses are displayed for the class, plus they’re displayed anonymously)
- Share your own personal life lessons on setting, achieving and/or not reaching goals
- Discuss favorite or memorable lessons and ask students to explain why they were so memorable (this will help show that you are reflecting as a teacher on how you can make lessons better for students)
- Have students create bulletin board or whiteboard wall art that explains, “Tips for “incoming” students.”
- Consider tracking goals using Sheets and Docs – perhaps students can track some type of personal progress over the summer
- Watch and discuss Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk – “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance”
- Have individual student-led conferences to help students finish strong
- Create a “Pride Wall” for goal achievements where students can share their accomplishments
In the end, start with “Why,” and continue to come back to that throughout the year.
Plan – Do – Check – Act – it’s all a process, especially for learning.
Data informs every aspect of decision-making. The flowchart below is a look at how data collection, asking questions, finding answers (not the answers you want, but discovering what the data says) informs everything from “What do our teachers value?” to “Why and how should we pilot a new program?” to “What professional development does our staff want and need?”