Friday, June 8, 2012

The Value of Self-Reflection

In the final summary meeting with my teachers yesterday, I focused on self-reflection and planning, planning for next year, and professional growth.  I made sure to clearly communicate how much I appreciate their hard work, celebrated their success, yet stressed the importance of reflection on how we can (and need to) improve.

To begin the meeting, I provided a note card to every teacher, along with a list of good self-reflection questions, which I owe credit to The Value of Self-Reflection.  I asked everyone to select one question, take a few moments to reflect, and subsequently write their response on the card.  I did not ask them to share their responses, nor did I ask for the teachers to turn the note cards in to me.  The purpose was to provide every teacher to take an opportunity to reflect on their teaching and hopefully encourage every teacher to self-reflect on their own.

In the spirit of serving as an instructional leader, I wanted to share some of my own reflections from this school-year, using some of the same questions provided to my teachers.

     What is my top teaching goal for the coming year?

      My top teaching goal is for our teachers to capitalize on instructional "Best Practices" from within the school through digital collaboration.  Our teachers do a great job of working within Professional Learning Communities and would even go as far to say we are a "PLC Model" school.  Yet, I do not believe our teachers take advantage of collaborating with instructional strategies within the school.  My top goal is to provide opportunities for this to occur.

     What types of students do I tend to ignore or do I need to spend more time serving?

      We need to spend more time serving our LEP/ESL population.  Our ESL teacher, who is incredible, has discussed various ideas to be implemented next year involving, but certainly not limited to, strategic scheduling of LEP students to coincide with our tested courses and a school website in Spanish to coincide with our primary school website, increasing awareness for our ESL community.

     What can I do to be more proactive in my professional development? 

      I discussed the importance of this summer's preparation for instructional design to align with the Common Core curriculum with teachers yesterday.  It would be hypocritical for me to not spend the necessary time becoming acclimated with the core content changes, as well.

     How can I increase valuable parental involvement? 

      In a casual conversation a few weeks ago, my principal and I talked about how to get more Dad's, or generally speaking, more men, involved in the school.  The timing was perfect, because I had just read some great ideas via Twitter that other principal's had done at their schools to engage "Dad's" and encourage the men that serve as parents to be involved in the school. 

      What minor and/or major changes can I make to my academic program in order to directly increase my students' learning?

      The administrative team was heavily involved with the PLC's of our tested areas this second semester.  Personally, I worked closely with the Biology PLC with data analysis of Common Assessments and Probability Prediction data.  The Biology PLC used a number of interventions during the school-day, such as objective-based remediation grouping.  All three of our tested area's proficiency improved approximately 16-17% (no joke, all three had same improvement) from first semester.  This proves that our strategies and focus this past semester worked.  More importantly, it showed that it needs to continue.

My aspirations are to encourage all of our teachers, administrators, and staff to take some time for quality self-reflection as the school-year winds down.  We owe it to ourselves as educators to recognize our strengths and identify needed areas of improvement.

Thanks for reading and follow me via Twitter @CSmithGoBlue.  


The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.

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