Cyberspace is flooded with tweets and posts by teachers longing for the school year to end or by others encouraging these teachers to finish strong. A theme I’ve seen in teachers’ posts is the attempt not to think too much yet about next year, because doing so would distract from this one or would be plain procrastination.
Sure, looking ahead to next year instead of planning these last lessons, grading projects, or creating exams is a type of procrastination. But I encourage you to indulge in it guilt-free. Here’s why:
1. You probably need it
It’s been an intense year, and this is an especially intense time. You need breaks from year-end intensity. If exploring ideas or making plans for next year energizes you, it’s as legitimate a way as any to recreate. In fact, it just might be what gets you through this year!
2. There’s no better time
Now is the time when you have the freshest sense of what worked this year and what didn’t. I’ve had many a mid-summer when I’ve tried to remember how a certain aspect of a class went and wished I hadn’t been so disciplined in putting next year’s planning off until summer. Also, while the school year is still going on, . . .
3. You can involve your students
Your students have a strong sense of what worked this year and what didn’t, what was enjoyable and what wasn’t. I can’t recommend strongly enough that you involve them in the reflection process. Check out the second half of this post for an idea of how one successful department involves its students not only in reflection on the past year, but also in outright planning of the next.
4. It’s fun
I really enjoy thinking big about next year. The endlessness of possibilities can be a good thing or a bad thing, but you get to tell yourself that it’s a good thing and start picking and choosing what you might want to try.
Important: As you indulge in next year, there’s no need to feel guilty about what you have or haven’t done this year. You’ve learned a ton and your students have learned a ton. You’ve done heroic work!
Do you have a formal system for reflecting on the past year?
Is there something you’re particularly eager to try next year?
See also: “Looking Backward and Forward,” last year’s end-of-school-year post.
Thanks for this! I needed it. I can’t seem to stop thinking about next year as I am writing study guides, grading binders and other assignments. I have begun to keep a list of thoughts – nothing fancy – just in an electronic document so I can look back on my planning notes this summer. I know I won’t have as many ideas when the students aren’t in front of me and I am not in the “zone”. I also will give an end of year assessment as part of my exam so I can look over student suggestions as I plan for next year. It has been a GREAT year but I am looking forward to starting next year with FRESH ideas!
My “formal system” is to keep a running google doc or sheet of ideas I want to implement. That way when I run across a cool activity or management tip, I have a place to put it where I know I’ll be able to find it mid-July. The one for next year looks like this, so far: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lRojkQzCMj22PcMhC-W5Arejl7FRfuK6GFT2qD08zuk/edit?usp=sharing
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