Can you believe the end of the school year is nearly here? Safe to say, this year presented its fair share of challenges, so how can we reflect on everything we have experienced as we begin closing out the school year? With every new hurdle that presented itself, schools and districts nationwide adapted to enable students to continue their education, whether online, in-person, or somewhere in between.
Teachers and administrators found innovative ways to teach and engage with students online. As you think ahead to the next school year, take some time to reflect on everything you’ve learned in and out of the classroom, and let us help offer you some thoughtful questions as you start closing out the school year.
Six Questions to Consider When Closing Out the School Year:
- What Big Lessons Have You Learned This Year?
Pull out those implementation goals from the beginning of the year, and think about where you stand in terms of program success. More importantly, how have your goals evolved? How have you? Identify what happened over the year that may have impacted your program, and think about whether your goals from last fall are still applicable now and can be used for next year. Make sure to also think about how you addressed any challenges you encountered and highlight what went well throughout the year. Now, how can you take everything you’ve learned to develop an even stronger, more effective program for next year?
- TIP: For guidance, check out this how-to guide for developing school program goals developed by the University of Connecticut’s Department of Assessment and Evaluation.
- What About Cleaning Up Student Data?
Before closing out the school year, make sure to promote students to the next grade level and archive any data that is no longer relevant or necessary. It can also be useful to start developing goals for the next school year, like creating learning contracts to help students better understand digital citizenship and the commitments for online learning. Your network security expert can also be a great resource for ensuring that your students’ data is protected and that all your bases are covered before logging off for the summer.
- TIP: Don’t forget about educator permissions and access! Do you have staff members moving into different roles or out of your school or district entirely? Review who has access, and clear out any unnecessary educator data. After you’ve done this, set up any new educators that may need access. Then, at the start of the school year, you can spend less time trying to get staff members access and support, and instead focus on students.
- Did You Require Support Help Throughout the Year?
Or better, how much time did you take out of your day to find outside help for your teachers or students? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that time back in the next school year? Try resolving some of these questions or issues that you ran into this past year so you can spend less time on problems and more time on providing solutions and help for students.
- TIP: Create a Help Document for students and staff to help address some of the questions or issues that you have previously experienced! Did your students struggle with the login process at the beginning of their courses? Write up clear, step-by-step instructions for students to follow and include the contacts for support.
- How Was the Enrollment Process?
Think back to the process of adding students to your program and enrolling them in courses—were there any headaches? Ensuring that students and staff experience an easy enrollment process helps set the tone for the rest of the school year. The fastest way to lose enrollments is with a long, frustrating start to their courses, whether that’s because of technical or scheduling issues. Sign up for EdWeek’s complimentary Strategic Enrollment Management for District Leaders webinar to hear district leaders across the nation discuss enrollment issues they faced this past year and how they’re addressing these challenges moving forward.
- How Was the Communication Experience Between Student and Teacher?
It’s safe to say that the 2020–2021 school year presented its fair share of challenges when it came to staying in touch with students and families. According to a study by Remind, “an estimated 1.3 million students stopped engaging with their schools at the end of last academic year…the number of texts, emails, and in-app messages dropped by an average rate of 8 percent to 17 percent of active students across all 50 states.” From school closures to hybrid learning classrooms, how were your teachers able to maintain communication with students?
- TIP: This would be a great opportunity for teachers to consult with one another to see how other educators are reaching out to their students and share tips for keeping them engaged throughout the entire school year.
- What Feedback Have Students and/or Parents Provided?
There is no voice more important than that of the student. Everything we do revolves around the needs of the student and how school programs can help them reach their academic goals. TED-Ed Student Talks gathered students from around the world to share their reflections on learning in 2020 and their hopes for the future in this short YouTube video. More likely than not, parents and guardians are also hearing honest student feedback and seeing challenges that teachers may not be aware of. With so many students having learned from home this year, it would be beneficial to gather feedback from parents/guardians who have been working with their student(s) at home as you start closing out the school year.
Need help getting started with this? Take a peek at these blog articles written by educators for educators with survey questions.
- What Big Lessons Have You Learned This Year?
While it’s been a tough school year, there’s no question that educators have learned a lot about how to adapt their teaching and instruction methods. From discovering how to conduct school remotely to developing creative ways to keep students engaged from their homes, we’ve learned so many things that can help strengthen next year’s programs. Take the time to reflect with your teachers and students so we can set the stage for a better tomorrow!
Bradley, B. (2020, October 13). More than a million students disengaged from school at end of academic year. EdWeek Market Brief. https://marketbrief.edweek.org/marketplace-k-12/million-students-disengaged-school-end-academic-year-analysis-suggests/