How Did You Reflect and Recharge This Summer?
Summer for educators is often a time to look back on the past year—and look forward to the coming one. What worked, what didn't, and what will you change? Educating the whole child and planning for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement requires us to be "whole educators" who take the time to recharge, reflect, and reinvigorate.
Last summer the Whole Child Podcast highlighted educators' need to reflect, refresh, and recharge. ASCD's Kevin Scott was joined by ASCD Emerging Leader Program alumni Peter Badalament, principal of Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts, and Jason Flom, director-elect at Cornerstone Learning Community in Florida where he was a founding teacher of the elementary school, to discuss their strategies for reflection.
Listen to "Make and Take the Time to Reflect, Refresh, and Recharge:"
ASCD: "Reflect, refresh, recharge: Why is this important? Doesn’t this occur throughout the year?"
Flom: "I'm sure it's the same for Peter as a principal, but as a classroom teacher, all year long it's really about giving to the students the experience they need and to be a responsive educator, colleague, and learner oneself. In some ways, if you strike the balance right, or thread the needle right, it's one part putting out fires and one part doing controlled burns over the course of the year. It's really a time of walking a tightrope, so the reflection is much more immediate:
- What does this student need?
- What are the needs of the curriculum?
- What are the needs of the objectives?
- What are the needs of the things are happening around me?
- What worked, what didn't, and how can I respond, react, and adapt?
In a very short period where there's very little time for recalibration (and sometimes the calibration is a minute little bit), there's not as much time for that 'big picture' reflection that really recharges the engines in terms of meeting students' needs on a day-to-day basis. ... There are always things that just pop up that you need to respond to that can interrupt real reflection."
Badalament: "I find, much like Jason, that there's so much triage that goes on during the school year that you're going from thing to thing—it's not that you don't reflect or take time to think about what you're doing at a given time, but there really just isn't enough time, literally, built into the day to just sit back. Especially in terms of thinking about bigger systems and questions like 'why do we do it that way?'"
This summer, we continued to share ideas and strategies for reflection on the Whole Child Blog, including:
- At the end of the last school year, ASCD's Kevin Scott asked us to take a little time to reflect and remind ourselves that our smallest actions sometimes make the biggest differences. "We hear so much about the negatives in education on a daily basis," writes Scott. "Don't forget the good work you're doing and the joy you bring to the community you serve."
- One of the most important skills successful educators have is the ability to self-reflect. In "Reflect or Retract: Top 3 Tips for the Reflective Educator," teachers Barry Saide and Jasper Fox, Sr., believe that expertise in contemplation transcends content and passion, setting the stage for continuous improvement. Evaluating one's practice allows educators of all levels to better serve students' needs.
- Throughout the year teachers reflect continuously on particular interactions with students, a given lesson, or even a whole school day because they realize it is the key to improving their practice. At the end of the year, teachers have the tendency to focus solely on the content they didn't have time to cover. In "End-of-Year-Reflection: Think About the Whole Child," teacher Kevin Parr shared ways for teachers to reflect on what works and matters most to set themselves and their students up for success next year.
How have you refreshed your passion for teaching, recharged your batteries, and planned for the new school year?