Elizabeth Holmes discusses the best way to reflect on your year at school and how to turn your experiences into positive changes in the futurepdf-1691279

CPD Week Info Sheet – End of year reflections.pdf

Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.
Peter Senge

At this point in the school year it pays to take a moment to reflect on how things have gone and on the changes you want to make ahead of September. This issue we offer some suggestions to support that process and a useful model to use in your review of the year.

The year that was…
It’s easy to let school life rush by in a blur of tasks, meetings, teaching, assessments, more meetings, observations and – if it’s your ‘lucky’ year – inspections. Often we hit the holidays with a pile of catching up to do and, when we do take time off, professional reflection may be the last thing on our minds. Given that the moment for reflecting on the year will undoubtedly have passed once the end of term actually arrives, aim to make some time now for reviewing the terms just gone and focusing on how you want to begin again in September. These ideas will help you get started:

  • Review: look again at your job description with regard to your professional learning-leader responsibilities. Have you been able to undertake these effectively? If not, can you discuss areas of development with your mentor or line manager? Or is it the case that this element of your job description isn’t realistic or supportive of success? If this sounds familiar, discuss your concerns before the end of term if possible, or at least book in a time to discuss them when the new term begins in September.
  • Journal: if you have kept a learning journal over the year, take some time to read through it and pick out some key aspects of your development and key learning needs over the year. How might these inform your work in the new year?
  • Sharing knowledge: can you identify the main ways in which knowledge was shared in your school over the year? Did this lead to genuine progress in learning among staff?
  • Learning for development: overall, did the professional learning undertaken by staff over the year successfully feed into your school’s development plans? Do you need to consider ways of anchoring that professional learning more effectively in the overall direction of your school?
  • Knowledge, skills and attitudes: how would you describe progress in professional learning in your school? What about development in knowledge, skills and attitudes? How contextual is the development undertaken?
  • Successes: if you were to identify five main successes in your work, what would they be? Does highlighting the successes help to illuminate the development needs?
  • Meeting learning halfway: genuine professional learning can only truly happen when this occurs. Give the learning to the learner pre-prepared on a plate, and it’s likely that nothing will come of it. Give the learner the ingredients they need to create the learning they need, and the outcome is likely to be more fruitful. It undoubtedly involves harder work, but that’s what we’re here for. If the learner has to engage with the learning through active participation and commitment, there is more likely to be transformation. We know this is true for the young people we work with, but do we consider that it also applies to ourselves and our colleagues when it comes to professional learning?
  • Inspiration: what approaches to professional learning have been particularly successful this year? Are there any companies or individuals that have truly inspired staff?

There are no hard and fast rules about your reflections on the year, but it is useful to commit at least to this: make a pledge to change one aspect of your work for the better when the new term begins and then set your reflections aside until then. It’s time now to look forward to the holiday.

Further information…
This information sheet offers a basic model for reviewing your work over the year.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in July 2009

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.