Areas you should focus on to prepare for the new year
Term 4 is officially here.
As always, the last term of the year comes with mixed feelings. Excitement that the end of 2019 is in sight, but overwhelm for the amount that we still have to achieve in just 10 weeks.
Like the three terms before it, this one will gain momentum quickly, becoming increasingly busy as time flies by. And before you know it there won’t be time left for those seemingly ‘non-essential’ tasks like reflecting on the past year.
But we do want to encourage you to carve out some time this term, before it gets too busy, to prioritise reflection. The end of the year is the perfect time to think about what was successful, what wasn’t, what you learnt and what you want to change in time for 2020.
After all, It’s the first step towards continuous improvement at your school, not to mention effective planning for the new year.
So before you get stuck in the day to day, set out some solid time for reflection. You’ll thank yourself for it.
What to focus on
When you’re reflecting think about the different areas of your school and whether you want to change, update, add or continue with the practices in that area.
To get you started consider the following areas to focus on:
Approach to teaching and learning Is your school focused on best-practice pedagogy? Do you prioritise personalised learning or streaming? Your school’s approach to teaching and learning is arguably one of the most important things to reflect on at the end of the year. Consider these questions: Is your approach achieving the results it aims for? Is it contributing to positive student outcomes? Are your programs effective? What should you stop, start or keep doing in 2020 to best support your teachers and students?
Student engagement Monitoring student achievement and progress across the year is important, but reflecting on it in Term 4 is vital. Reviewing this data will help you determine whether or not your programs and classroom practices are on track to effectively support students.
School and state data Similar to the above, take the time to evaluate your school’s data compared to similar schools in your state or region. Schools collect a lot of data over a year and reviewing it against external datasets can be interesting and insightful.
School Leadership Effective school leadership can have a big impact on school culture. Think about the approach to leadership at your school. Is there a good level of collaboration within the team? Is leadership of the school/department committed to their goals and making progress towards them? Are they effectively communicating their work and progress? Are there new areas that should be focused on in the new year? Commitment to professional development and coaching also fits in here. What skills gaps need to be closed, or what areas need refreshing? You can hit the ground running in 2020 if you can sort this out now.
Technology and resources We have more technology in our classrooms than ever, but is it the right technology? Tech shouldn’t be implemented for the sake of it, and it certainly shouldn’t make anyone’s job more difficult. So it your tech working for you? Is it supporting teachers and improving student outcomes? Or is it time to reconsider what you use in the classroom?
School culture and community We mentioned school culture in relation to leadership, but it is important to look at it separately. Culture will impact how everyone at your school feels about being there. From teachers, to support staff and students. Parents too. If your culture isn’t positive, you’ll certainly know about it. If this is the case, jump on it now because no one wants another year of negativity.
When you take the time to reflect, you put yourself in the best position to start 2020 positively. So lock it in now! Pop a few hours in your calendar and prioritise it — you won’t regret it.
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