As the sun begins to set on another school year, fantasies of white sand beaches and sleeping as late as rock stars begin to blossom in our classroom daydreams. And after months jam-packed with responsibilities, rules, and routines (not to mention the frequent drama and chaos), who would blame us for phoning in our strategy for the last day of school?
If you do, you’re missing a great opportunity. According to Harvard Business School, reflection is a powerful learning sealant, although greatly underused. In fact, the study suggests reflecting on learning experiences can be more beneficial than additional learning experience itself. In other words, thinking about and articulating lessons learned are more effective than solving a few more problems. Not only does the lesson tend to stick better when reflected upon, but the learner gains a sense of confidence which results in a desire to achieve more goals. And as we know, lessons don’t just happen in the classroom. Perhaps the same principle holds true for truths learned or goals met through sports, music, art, or even relationships. And what better time of year to reflect on what was learned than the end of a school year?
In the spirit of helping our weary teachers finish strong, we bring in reinforcements: ideas to send your students off with a sense of accomplishment and adventure.
- Skillapalooza – Have students come prepared to share one thing they learned in their favorite class. Each student writes the name of the skill on the board, followed by a presentation. They can draw a picture, show a photo, act it out, show how to use the skill or simply explain it. At the end, point out how many skills students have mastered this year. And these are just the beginning.
- Retro Q&A – Write 3-5 questions on the board. Ask students to think back through the school year before answering. Allow five minutes for students to reflect. Students choose one question to answer to the class. Answers can involve academics, extra-curricular activities or teamwork experiences.
Example questions might be:
What surprised you the most this year, in a good way?
Name a project that opened your eyes to something.
What seemed the hardest skill to master and how did you accomplish it?
- Bagging up Good Stuff– This idea comes from teachhub.com, which suggests having students decorate brown bags and write their names on them. As the bags are passed around, each child puts in one positive comment in each student’s bag. It’s all done anonymously. Teacher reads a few from each bag to the class. Careful, you never know what kids will write.
And before you bite into your first sweet taste of summer freedom, take a moment to reflect on your own successes. What worked well? Hold that thought. Scratch that. Type it out and save the file. Lazy mornings, sea breezes and sunshine have a way of deleting thoughts of classroom teaching strategies. And with that phenomenal file securely stored away, be free, and let your summer adventure begin.