Ending with the Beginning in Mind

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Join other teachers each Tuesday,  and share a slice of your life.

Join other teachers each Tuesday, and share a slice of your life.

Some teachers may read the blog title and think, “No, you’ve got it wrong. You’re supposed to begin with the end in mind.”

Perhaps that true of unit planning, but for the last month or so I have been ending with the beginning in mind. I have been thinking forward towards next year. I have been thinking about what went well this year, what didn’t go well, and what I’d like to change. I’ve been thinking of all this in regards to instruction, organization, and management.

I’ve been thinking about this for my class, for my department, for my grade level. I’ve been thinking of the conversations to have with other teachers in my grade level, with ELA department heads, with my principal, with my department.  Man, this time of year my head spins with all the ideas of what I’d like to change.

Really, though, somehow I let the year slip me by without getting the end of the year feedback from my students. I realized that when I read an article yesterday: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-feedback-improves-your-teaching-vicki-davis.

Tonight, though, I decided I would still get student feedback and parent feedback, too. I created a parent survey and a student survey using Google Forms. Tomorrow morning I will push it out using Remind.

And so, I challenge all my teacher friends, don’t just pack up and go away to the beach. Try to find a way to end with the beginning in mind. The advice Vicki Davis gives in Edutopia seems essential to helping us keep our passion. Here is the end of the article on why we need to reflect/improve:

Students are what we do. They are the center of our classroom, not us. However, as a teacher, I am the most impactful single person in the classroom. Honest feedback from our students will help me level up.

I’ve been doing this for more than ten years. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry — and sometimes I’m mortified. But I can honestly say that every single piece of feedback I’ve received has made me a better teacher. And great teachers are never afraid of having or inviting hard conversations. This is one of best practices that has helped me to be a better, more excited teacher every year.

In our role as teachers, we aren’t much different than students. We need feedback to better ourselves–feedback goes well beyond the walkthroughs, evaluations, and state surveys. Feedback is in honest conversations. Feedback creates new challenges, and for me, new challenges fuel my passion. Next year will be my 19th, and I still love what I do and am challenged many times a day.

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3 thoughts on “Ending with the Beginning in Mind

  1. I agree. It’s the feedback from kids about what they liked and didn’t lie that helps up do things even better the next time around. We are the only profession that gets to hit rewind every June!

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  2. Thanks for writing this post. I recently read a similar post that Pernille Ripp wrote, but I still haven’t done anything about it. To be honest, this year I am terrified (mortified?) to ask for feedback. Although there have been good moments with my students, there have been others that have made me question myself and the decisions I’ve made in the classroom; they go against the grain of what I believe about teaching and learning. But, maybe that is why I should ask for feedback. Would you be willing to share some of the questions you asked your students and parents? Although I’ve done this in the past, this year I don’t know where to start. Thanks in advance.

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