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?

4 comments:

  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.

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    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.

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  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!

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    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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