22 Dec

Another Semester Down…Almost

grading papersThe end of the semester has come. As I grade through the seemingly never-ending pile of papers, I reflect. How did the students respond to the textbook and certain activities this semester? How engaged did they seem during class? I consider the success level on student assignments and how that success was determined. Should I modify the assignment? The rubric? Do I allow for students to “show what they know” in a variety of ways, depending on their personal preferences and learning styles? Although the semester is over for students, my learning continues.

In fact, I learn quite a bit each semester. Did that new approach produce the desired results? Was that structure a headache or worth it? Were there student needs I was unprepared for? How can I better set each student up for success, while still allowing them to meet high standards?

One of my favorite reflection tools at the end of the semester is the exit ticket. Each student completes one, whether in a face-to-face or online course, before they leave the course. It’s their final task. The exit ticket provides me with student insight for the course but also assists me in learning more about each student. Although I modify it slightly every semester, here’s what the exit ticket entails:

When answering the following, reflect on the entire course.

  • Top 10 takeaways
  • Favorite aspect or activity
  • Talk about the textbook
  • Syllabus assessment
  • Personal growth/new insights
  • Do over- what is something you’d do differently?
  • Greatest achievement
  • Anything else you’d like me to know…

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to semester break like the next person, but I also recognize the importance of reflecting during those final hours. In fact, this is a crucial step in reflective practice. According to Educational Psychologist, Dr. Kenneth Wolf, “Reflection is what allows us to learn from our experiences: it is an assessment of where we have been and where we want to go next.”

After the final grade has been entered, I will take a break to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. This short break provides me with a much needed breather so that I can return next week, ready to apply what I’ve learned and move forward in planning the next semester.

What tools do you use for self-reflection regarding your teaching practice? Comment/Reply below.