Term 4 is officially here.
As always, the last term of the year comes with mixed feelings. Excitement that the end of the year is in sight, but overwhelm for the amount that we still have to achieve.
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 next year.
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 reflecting
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 next year 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.
- Curriculum review
The curriculum is currently being reviewed, with the final document set to be released. When the Consultation Curriculum was published in the middle of the year, we got our first taste of what the new curriculum will likely look like. Amongst the proposed changes some new content was added, some content was resequenced, and some content was removed or reduced. While we don’t have the final document in front of us, we do know that there will be changes and with those changes will bring extra work for teachers. Now is a good time to start thinking about how this is going to affect you. You can find resources including lesson plans, assessments and videos on the new curriculum topics here. These free resources give you everything you need to teach the new content.
- Technology and resources
The end of the year is a great time to reflect on whether your classroom resources are really working for you. But this is even more important when a new curriculum is set to be released. After all, your resources should make the transition to the new curriculum as smooth as possible. So ask yourself, is your textbook or resource still serving you and your students well? Is it giving you the data you need to teach? If a section of your resource doesn’t make sense, or needs questions added to better support mastery can that be done quickly and easily? Does your resource(s) support you to deliver personalised learning to your students? Check out these links to help you consider what resources might better support you on the other side of the new curriculum.
Using data to create content that supports deep learning
Leveraging learning analytics for better educational content design
- 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 on 2021, you put yourself in the best position to start 2022 positively.
So lock it in now! Pop a few hours in your calendar and prioritise it — you won’t regret it.
Creating a positive school culture, one grounded in wellbeing for teachers, students and parents, is something our friends at Grow Your Mind are experts in. They’ve created amazing classroom resources and PD that helps schools across the country put wellbeing at the centre of everything they do.