Saturday, January 3, 2015

Looking Back at the Previous Term: Reflective Practice with Efficiency

Just a quick post here as we start another year that applies to all teaching, not just math and IBL...

At the end of the term (or recently after a term ends), I like to look back at the courses I have taught and reflect on the successes and productive failures.  What I like to do is set aside 30 minutes or 1 hour, and write down my thoughts, go over my notes, look for patterns, and try to identify areas I can work on.  I look at the problems that were successful and the ones that were not so successful.

Then I put them into my to-do list manager (Omni Focus).  A variety of programs and workflows are out there related to to-do list managers, and the choice of software is not important.  It is important to use some system, however.   The upshot is that I like to put my ideas and thoughts into my to-do list app, and then set a date for to add more things in.  Repeat every week or so for just a few minutes.   Then when it's time to get moving with the next course prep, I have my thoughts about what I can improve ready for action, which leads to me adding in something new that is good or improving something much more frequently. 

Small bits of time used efficiently and computer-aided organization can help us learn faster and grow faster as teachers.  These small bits of time are like prepping the prep time.  This idea can be adapted to suit your needs, and I can see it as part of regular, ongoing reflective practice.

I don't think I'll ever be done learning about teaching, and truthfully that's a good thing.  It's akin to craftsmanship or being an artisan, where the work spans the arc of a career.  It's an enjoyable, fulfilling way to look at the profession, and it's a component of what makes teaching fun, positive, and optimistic (at least to me).

Warm wishes for a successful 2015!