Reflecting back on our own performance can be very valuable as long as it is done with the right intentions. Too often people reflect back on a situation to beat themselves up about how they could have done it better or they reflect back and complain about somebody else’s behaviour or performance. Neither blaming yourself or someone else is useful for moving forward and improving things for the next time.
As teachers, there is a tendency to just survive until the end of term or the end of the year and then recover and deal with things in the holidays. Although this is a survival technique that can work, I would like to propose a technique for thriving, not just next term but also in your holidays. When we don’t deal with things, even if we put them out of our mind, they are very often still there bothering us in the background or lying in wait to get us as soon as the new term comes around.
The first thing to remember is to have a balanced evaluation which means looking at the good as well as the bad. Try answering the questions below to get you started.
What has gone well for me this year?
What has gone well for my students this year?
What problems arose that I solved?
What problems arose that still need dealing with?
What if anything would I like to change for next year?
Is there anything still bothering me, emotionally, professionally etc?
Being honest with yourself and acknowledging the things that have gone well is really important. Even if they are small things, please make sure you pull them out and give yourself credit for them.
If you highlighted any issues that have not been resolved or are causing you problems still, now would be a good time to reflect on what you could do to improve things for next term. Jot down some ideas so that this is out of your head. What you do not need is to be running through things during the holidays without highlighting potential solutions. Remember you can not control everything and you certainly cannot control other people, but you can control the way you think about things.
Get very clear on what you would like to change for next year/term. This applies whether you have a current problem or not and set yourself a goal. Ideally, write it down and commit to it. Now you can let it all go.
How to let things go
One of my favourite visualisations for letting things go is to imagine a truck/lorry on a road and you are looking at it from behind. On the back of the lorry is your problem - you can represent this in words or pictures and then you watch the lorry drive away down the road and with it your problems get smaller and smaller until you can’t even see them anymore! And just like that, it feels like a weight is lifted.
You are now free to enjoy the holidays!
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.