8 year-end reflection tools and activities

Reflect, celebrate and plan

year-end reflection tools and activitiesOh, the spring. Such a busy time for teachers.

There are all those transition meetings, already getting ready for the next year. Then there are placement meetings, figuring out who will be in what class, core or group. And of course, all those ceremonies, exhibitions, and spring events.

It’s easy to forget all of the progress you have made with your students and as a school during these times. And it’s easy to get frustrated and to focus only on what you have to do next.

Your class, your community and the progress your school has made matters. And they should be celebrated.

Let’s look at 8 ways you can reflect on your school experience, celebrate your progress, and plan for the future.

1. Slideshows

There are many ways to use this tool for community reflection and celebration. It is neat to look at pictures from the fall of your class because it is likely they have grown and changed dramatically. If you have a class blog, these photos can be put into a slideshow quickly and shared with the class. Some reflections could help with transitions as well.

You could ask the kids reflective questions such as:

  • How did it feel when you started the school year?
  • Which were some of your favorite activities and why?
  • What was challenging and how did you work through it?
  • What’s something you will always remember about this year?

With all the rush-rush of the end of the school year, your students will appreciate the break in the action, the chance to look back and laugh, reflect and remember.

The same goes for teachers! Often, we forget to consider everything we have done.

So, a simple slideshow of your class can help with this reflection, as can hearing what students found memorable and meaningful.

Or a teacher leader or principal can  make a slideshow of the school year for teachers that reflects growth, change, and learning on the part of the staff.

Then, couple this with some snacks and reflective questions, and you have a positive end of the school year staff meeting planned.

2. Twitterfeeds! With Storify.

One way to gather a long view of the school year is to gather the Twitter feeds of the school, the principal, and possibly some teachers. Then these can be combined into a Storify, and shared back to staff. Because the chronology is in place already, it can feel like a live news story and fresh from the field. This could be shared with teacher and students and be the springboard for discussion and reflection.

3. Adobe Sparks

end-of-the-year reflection tools and activities

These nifty scrolling web stories are beautiful and easy to make.

Check out the one I made for Proctor Elementary School celebrating their progress and activities during the school year. Because creating and sharing these web stories can help in several ways. Teachers feel inspired to see their progress and feel positive. These pieces can be used as a way to celebrate and share with the community. And they can inform and inspire school leadership and the wider educational community.

I’ll ask colleagues at Proctor:

  • How are your emotions after looking at this?
  • What impact did we have this year?
  • Did anything shift for you this year?
  • What do we want to do more of next year?

4. Reflective meetings & questions

I know, a whole meeting for reflection? Well, if we don’t schedule it, it likely won’t happen. But it’s an important transition for teachers to move from one school year to another. It’s where teachers can write or draw the story of their school year and share and discuss it with others.

Here are more end of the year reflection questions to explore and share. 

For a deep dive into reflective practice, see this post from The Cult of Pedagogy. This also has an action plan for next year based on teacher reflections and dives deep into the whole teaching self. And this could be a powerful end of the school year meeting and experience that cultivates action research and reflective practices.

5. Blogposts

To organize your thinking and to summarize the year, you could write an end of the year blogpost for your own blog or the school newsletter. This can feature pictures, goals, new learning and accomplishments. Then this becomes a learning tool for parents and other teachers. Here’s an example from a second grade teacher. 

6. Email yourself!

Write your future, hopefully well rested self an email. Take a look at the prompts here. What do you want to do more of next year? And what do you want to do less of? How do you want your class to be? You see, writing yourself now while the ideas are fresh– then revisiting when you have more bandwidth is a solid approach!

7. Celebrate!

Here are some super fun ideas for ending the school year with students in a celebratory way. Red carpet? Yes please! Many of these could also be done with teachers. Top 10 list of lessons learned this year? Yep. A red carpet with awards and gratitude (and snacks?). You bet.

8. Make up your own rituals

Graduating sixth grade students at Rumney School in Middlesex run “the gauntlet” on the last day of school — they run laps in the hallways while high fiving every single student before leaving a final time.

Plan a little fun, a little reflective, and a lot of celebration. You deserve it!

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Katy Farber

Farber joined TIIE after 17 years as a classroom teacher in central Vermont. Her dissertation with Northeastern University focused on service learning at the middle level and is called The Doing Revolution: early adolescents, service learning, and personal growth. Her education articles have been published on CNN’s School of Thought, Educational Leadership, Edutopia, and the Synapse. Farber has also taught pre-service and practicing teachers in graduate courses at Union Institute and LAPDA. She is passionate about promoting student and teacher voice, engaging early adolescent students, sharing the power of service learning, and creating inclusive communities where joy, courageous conversations and kindness are the norm. She lives in central Vermont with her husband and two daughters and loves being outside with family and friends, listening to music, and jumping into Vermont ponds and lakes.

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