This post is not so much about suggesting or telling about an educational approach. Rather this is about my wanting to remember to include reflection more into my coaching and teaching. As we careen towards the end of the school year, so many activities seem to pop up that I often don’t take the time for reflection.
I have written about percolating time, http://edtechease.com/index.php/blog/percolating-time, that time to let ideas grow or give students a few extra seconds to form their ideas. Reflection is more than that. For me, reflection is the thinking about an event, lesson, or discussion and determining what I would keep or change for the next time.
This idea of taking time to reflect is particularly important this year for me. For the first time in a long, long while I spent this school year inserting myself into a new school community. I could not have asked for a more welcoming community. From the students to the faculty to the parents, everyone was so open to including me in their school community. Does that mean there were no hiccups, of course not. But as I reflect on the year, those bumps in the road were fabulous learning opportunities.
As an edtech consultant and in my role as an accreditation team member, I have stepped into schools for short visits, imparting my “wisdom” and then leaving. In these circumstances, I do not have to be around for the fallout from suggesting new ideas/approaches or the hard work of implementing change. But this year, I added a client school in which I spent several days each week. This meant that I was personally in the school to see how my recommendations and proposals on curriculum; suggestions on teaching; and professional development book studies developed.
In working at my previous school for well over a decade, I had the opportunity to get to know the faculty well. I knew which teachers would take a recommendation and run with it. Which teachers would benefit from modeling and co-teaching. Which teachers needed time to digest ideas then have a discussion. I had also built up my relationships so that my recommendations were met with confidence by the faculty that I had done my research. In this new client school, my biggest reflection is that I did not develop relationships first. Yes, I did not come in day 1 and say ‘blah, blah, blah, this needs to go.’ But I did suggest to soon that as a faculty we evaluate certain programs and practices too soon. Just having a new person in the school was unsettling enough.
I thank the other administrators that I was working with for our weekly meetings to help me learn the community. Those meetings helped remind me to take a step back. While I took copious notes, I started asking more questions and doing more observations. This allowed the second half of the school year to go smoother. This also gave the faculty time to see that I was open to discussions and wanted their input (even if it was different from my thoughts).
So what are my reflections at the end of this school year.
- Be open. Some practices that I thought were not worthwhile are just right for this school.
- Seeing a school year from start to finish, gave me the big picture. It was about March when some ideas that I had been sketching out came together and allowed me to research programs to enrich the educational opportunities that would work with the constraints and possibilities within this school.
- Listen more. As the year went on I realized their were stakeholders I had not talked with…parents. So I set up morning coffee sessions with each grade level of parents. I stopped some in the lobby during arrival and dismissal. Before I knew it, more parents were stopping me. Some to give me the “lowdown” on the school, others to hear what I thought.
- Sometimes an “outside” viewpoint is needed. Even if this is hard for the “insiders” to hear.
Are you taking a few minutes to reflect on this school year? Do you have your students reflect on the school year? Share your ideas with EdTech EASE on Twitter (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.