Summer Break – an Opportunity for Reflection!
What did you learn from the period of emergency remote teaching? Reflecting on successes and challenges during the summer break can boost your resilience for the upcoming school year.
While this school year comes to an end and you are most likely tempted to turn away from all school-related matters, we advise you to make the most of this summer break by not only focusing on relaxation and self-care (which are very much needed) but also reflecting on how the school year went.
By engaging in intentional and structured reflection on the last year and with the distance learning experience in mind, you can uncover strategies to improve your teaching practices and manage future challenges in the classroom, especially in case of a second wave of COVID-19. Below are the three steps we suggest for you to guide your reflection process.
Step 1: Map high and low points of your professional practice; spot successes and spaces for improvement
Create a line graph that shows your emotional experience of the year (X-Axis: Time, Y-Axis: Emotions). Then identify what happened in those peaks and valleys. A high point could be an engaging lesson you planned, a performance your students did, a project you were involved in, some positive feedback you got from a supervisor, or a MOOC you participated in.
The low points could be the beginning of the distance learning, or the examination period at the end of the school year, because you were exhausted, and students acted out. Try to identify your professional ups and downs for this school year and explain the reasons behind them.
Step 2: Think of opportunities to leverage
From distance learning to technology-enhanced learning
Global school shutdowns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic led to online education and virtual schooling quite abruptly, without teachers being prepared for it. However, teachers experimented with digital platforms and online tools to achieve their learning objectives. This new knowledge could be used and further developed in face-to-face teaching, as it can help you embrace differentiated instruction and better support the learning needs of your students.
Make a list of tools that you used during the distance learning period, or visit our blog post on Free Tools and Resources for Online Teaching for additional inspiration. Could these tools bring value to your teaching when you are back at school? If so, how?
The unexpected circumstances made us turn to colleagues and ask for support, maybe more often than we did when we were at school. While collaboration in virtual spaces might not happen the same way as it does in person, connecting in online communities or closer groups and figuring out what works has been a good support mechanism for many educators in this period.
Who were your support buddies? How could you keep collaborating with them in the new school year? The MOOC The Networked Teacher – Teaching in the 21st Century can further expand your reflection process and help you develop your professional learning network. Or you can join our MOOCs this autumn and engage with like-minded teachers in designated Facebook groups or course forums.
A new school-family relationship
COVID-19 has created many complexities, insecurities and anxieties both for parents and teachers, but it also seems to have created opportunities for mutual understanding and empathy. This offers a genuine opportunity to consolidate, and even extend, your communication strategies and structures with parents and carers to not only achieve better support systems at home, but also engage parents in students’ learning more actively.
To identify space for improvement with each student’s carers, create a document with three columns featuring the headings “Great,” “OK,” and “Improve,” and then sort your relationship with each family into them. The examples you come up with to justify your response in each case will help you think of the mechanisms that worked.
Step 3: Focus on well-being
Probably one of your main concerns throughout the distance learning was how to make your students feel connected during a time of physical isolation and how to maintain not only teacher-student relationships but also peer relationships in the virtual setting. This experience might be an opportunity to develop the social and emotional learning practices in your classroom.
What kind of routines have you established during the remote teaching period that were not a norm in the pre-COVID-19 period? How could you expand these in the new school year to boost students’ well-being? The “Yes I can” – Empowering Student Learning MOOC might provide you with useful ideas.
There are many other crucial areas to consider in this reflection process. What is your lesson learned after the emergency remote teaching period, and how are you getting ready for the next school year? Share your experience in the comment section below.
Enjoy the well-deserved summer break and set your new teaching goals!
Our new course catalogue
As you are getting ready for the next school year, we would like to inform you that the catalogue of the European Schoolnet Academy online courses for the autumn semester is now available!