Reflecting on our practice is an integral part of being a teacher. We need to critically think about our successes, challenges, and future directions.
As in previous years, I decided to do a quick reflection of my teaching practice throughout 2021. It has been a hell of a year for all us teachers, and my own experiences have been unique in that it’s my first year teaching part time and also being a parent to two of my own children while working.
I decided to use the same list of questions as previous years – from Minds in Bloom. There are 20 questions in all, but this year I decided to do it all as one quick post rather than a series. I haven’t had the mental space to do a deep dive into my reflection like I have previously (I’m sure you can relate there!).
These are the questions—I encourage you to use them (or others you may have found like them) to reflect on your own practice this year, and comment below if you have any revelations you would like to share!
What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
Successfully navigated working part-time and job-sharing (thanks Harry!)
What is something you tried in your classroom this year for the first time? How did it go?
Education Perfect – was great for homework tasks, revision, supervision lessons, and lockdown lessons.
What is something you found particularly frustrating this year?
Having my absences questioned – I’ll have a post about teaching while also being a parent to toddlers (with all their health issues) soon.
Which student in your class do you think showed the most improvement? Why do you think this student did so well?
A kid in one of my lower grades. He started the year hanging out with people who did not encourage or treat him well. By 2/3 of the way through the year he was sitting with a different group in class, actively engaged in their intellectual conversations and learning as much as he could from them. Not only did his grades improve, but he appears happier and actively enjoys learning.
What is something you would change about this year if you could?
My own guilt – parent guilt, teacher guilt, partner guilt, and the never-leaving feeling that I should be doing *more* with my time.
What is one way that you grew professionally this year?
Completed a certificate in social media marketing – while it has helped me with my side-hustles, it has also helped me with my teaching. Stay tuned for a series of posts about how the principles of sociam media marketing align with teaching.
Who amongst your colleagues was the most helpful to you?
Harry – teaching partner – this could have been a massive disaster, but overall it’s been fantastic.
Jason – HOD – having my back and trusting me to do my job and do it well.
Jess – taking the brunt of the load for the senior syllabus.
What has caused you the most stress this year?
Ha! Funnily enough, the pandemic has not been the biggest cause of stress for me. We’ve been largely unaffected beyond inconveniences here. My own mental health has probably caused me the most stress, and that has been impacted by many things. At school itself, probably the new senior syllabus, as a lot of the content is what I learned at uni, I’m having to go back and relearn a lot. Also the impacts of the health of my children has been very stressful.
When was a time this year when you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?
Charting the progress of my students and sending home emails to the family of every student who had any improvement.
What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?
That I care beyond their grade. Also my absolutely *ahem* stellar artistic ability and mad jokes.
In what ways were you helpful to your colleagues this year?
Probably not very helpful at all to be honest – I’ve had to focus on myself to an almost exclusive degree this year just to stay afloat.
What was the most valuable thing you learned this year?
Family first. Always. Jobs can be replaced, family cannot.
What was the biggest mistake you made this year? How can you avoid making the same mistake in the future?
Doubting my need to put my family first. Noticing any trends here?
What is something you did this year that went better than you thought it would?
Job-sharing! Had no idea what to expect, but it’s honestly been a dream.
Want to see more in-depth examples of responses? You can view my reflections of previous years here.
What part of the school day is your favourite? Why?
Before school starts – having a cup of tea, getting things organised, chatting with colleagues.
What were your biggest organisational challenges this year?
A well-meaning colleague changing lesson sequencing and topic focus after I’d already taught it.
Who was your most challenging student? Why?
A student who was wholly uninterested in the subject. Appears perhaps sexist, and was also quite dismissive of me at the same time as being very passive aggressive.
In what ways did you change the lives of your students this year?
I hope I instilled a little more self-confidence.
Pretend that you get to set your own salary for this past year based on the job that you did. How much do you feel that you earned (the number you come up with should be in no way based on your current salary – rather, come up with a number that truly reflects how you should be compensated for your work this year)?
I’d say what I earned aligned well with what I put in.
Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to be a teacher if you could go back in time and make the choice again? If the answer is “no,” is there a way for you to choose a different path now?
I’m honestly unsure. I love the job, the holidays I’ll get to spend with my own kids. But the stress is a bit much at times, the changes are never ceasing and rarely for the better of the teaching and/or learning process. I could very easily pivot my career now, but for the moment I’m staying in teaching purely because of my own kids.
How did 2021 shape up for you as a teacher?