Now that the school year has wrapped up and summer has begun, teachers and parents often take bit of time to think back on the past year. This time of reflection most likely varies from person to person but probably involves questions such as:
- What were some of the learning highlights from this year?
- Were there experiences that were not as good as I hoped for?
- Did a year’s worth of school equal a year’s worth of learning?
- What could I have done better?
- Was this year everything I had hoped for?
For teachers, questions such as these drive much of the summer learning and preparation for the next school year. Sure there are vacations and some rest over the summer months, but most teachers take significant time in June, July, and August, refining their craft and preparing to make improvements for the start of the next year.
As parents, the questions above vary in significance depending on the experience of their kids. What I mean by that is, if I were to ask my 4th grader “Did you enjoy the school year” – her response to that question (along with our overall feelings about the year) would dictate the amount of reflection we would do as parents. If her answer is yes and we have fond memories then most typical parents would simply glance over the questions above with minimal thought. If her answer was “no” or “it was okay” – most parents would probably dig a little deeper and reflect a bit more on what could have been done to make it better.
I wonder what reflection and action would look like if parents had more information that was meaningful to them?
We are given report cards; many schools even produce some end of year test performance data, but what about the other important components of learning? Areas like social and emotional development (self-advocacy, confidence, self-regulation), student skills (note taking, organization, time management), and even the 4 C’s of 21st century learning (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity).
How did our kids do this year on these skills? Do most parents even know that these skills – these transferrable life skills – are even important to track or measure?
I envision a time when each student has their own personalized learning plan that includes both the traditional academic content to be learned but also the equally important life skills. Wouldn’t it be great if teachers, parents, and even students all collaborated on the development of such a plan – goals, action, and progress monitoring?
I am certain that in some schools across the country this is already happening. Parents and teachers collaborating around individual student learning – each bringing their intimate knowledge of that child to the table to work together as partners – creating a plan, action steps, and regular check points for monitoring the progress throughout the year. I wonder what summer reflection looks and feels like for these parents and teachers?
A final note…
I want to say thanks to Mrs. S and Miss W. for all of their efforts this year for my daughters (and the rest of the students too). Both of my girls learned a great deal of academic knowledge, more importantly they have developed those additional skills and have grown tremendously as confident learners and individuals.
I certainly spend time reflecting on the year – running through each of the questions mentioned above for each of my daughters. It’s nice to know though, that when I ask them “Did you enjoy the school year?” – the answer is an enthusiastic YES!
Thank you – and yes, this year has been all that we hoped for and more!