Friday, August 4, 2017

Lesson Reflections

Part of my daily routine is to note how each of my lessons went.  Making this a routine was a battle for me, but I stuck with it all year long.  Completing lesson reflections gave me direction and focus on the changes I could make to my lessons over the summer.  I would write notes to myself such as, lesson took long, cut out_____, or had 5 minutes to spare, add _____, or change _____ notes to ______, etc.  I was able to make the necessary changes to my Geometry curriculum in about a week (back when I still had momentum and motivation at the beginning of summer).

Actually, I met with my principal early in July to discuss some things because I simply would not be able to relax this summer if they were still on my mind.  He told me I needed to take a break and to stop thinking about Geometry for a few weeks.  Instead of working on finishing the changes, I threw myself into creating new products for Teachers Pay Teachers, starting a YouTube channel, and improving my blog.  I have not gone back to making changes since.  As I write this, I have one last unit of Geometry to fix, and all of my General Geometry course to fix.  I think this will easily be done within a week because of the notes I have to guide me.

If I'm correct, I was inspired by similar work that misscalcul8 did.  (I know I got it from somewhere.)  I believe she even recommended completing the task in Google Sheets, which is what I did.  Last year, I used an Excel Spreadsheet, which was good, but Google Sheets worked out better for me.  As I'm teaching, I usually have an Internet browser open, and I could easily keep Google Sheets open and that would remind me to take notes throughout the day.  Even as I was delivering my lessons, I would start thinking about the changes I would need make to note of in my lesson reflection.

As teachers, we are constantly reflecting and making notes to ourselves about the things we want to change or improve.  I like this method of documenting those thoughts.

How I Set Up my Sheets:
  • Every course I teach has its own sheet.
  • The first row are all of the units for the course.  I widened the column for each unit.
  • The first column is numbered for the different topics in the unit.  This numbering generally corresponds to how I save my files.
  • I formatted each cell to keep the text in the upper left corner, and to wrap the text.

Once the sheets were set up, I was ready to start reflecting on my lessons.  I typed out the title of each topic in bold, and then started typing my reflection of the lesson.  If there was an additional day for the topic, I would write in bold "Day 2" and then type the reflection of the second day's activity.

Here is what my lesson reflections now look like:

At the end of the year, I read though everything I wrote and color-coded the text.  Anything I need to add is in pink, anything I need to remove is in purple, and anything I need to change is in green.  This has helped guide and focus me to knowing exactly what changes I need to make and where.  In short, it has been a game-changer in my summer back-to-school preparations. 

My goal for this up-coming school year is to remember to refer back to this document before I teach topics for the reminders and tips I wrote to myself.  And, of course, I will be making a whole new set of lesson reflections for the new school year.

How do you keep track of your lesson reflections?


  1. Brianne, Thanks for sharing this! I'm always thinking about lesson plans and school during the summer. It's a challenge to completely to take a break from all of it. After reading your post I started to think of how this could work with elementary teachers. A couple of questions popped in my head, so I'll write them out here. 1.) Do you share the reflection sheet with anyone? For example, would you share the sheet with a principal, team, or colleagues? 2.) Also, what do you use to lesson plan? Is it the same sheet, just a different tab? I used to use an At-A-Glance journal, but have moved to an online platform for the last few years.

    1. I have not shared my reflection sheet with anyone yet. I like having it just in case for some reason I needed documentation (don't know why I would, but CYA). I am planning on sharing it with my department when we return to school.

      I am going to write posts about lesson planning and sharing my planner for the up-coming year, but the short answer is I created a template in Google Docs for my weekly plans. I share this with my co-teacher each week.

  2. I love this idea! I tend to write myself notes on post-its and place them in my INB because when I'm planning the following year, I have the previous year's notebook beside me. I wonder about creating a checklist type post-it note with Keep ____ Change ____ etc and putting those on each lesson in the NB. So much to ponder!

    1. I really like the idea of giving yourself the "keep" and "change" prompts to guide your reflections. So many days my reflection was just, "lesson is good as is."


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