Note: While these questions were written with educators of ELLs and immigrants in mind, they are applicable in a wide variety of settings, including other professional organizations. Special thanks to Larry Ferlazzo, Kristina Robertson, Susan Lafond and Cassandra Lawrence for their input.
As school year draws to a close, it is an important time to stop and reflect on this past year. It’s also an opportunity to take a deep breath and think about how to best direct your energies in the coming year, as well as to think about what teaching coach Elena Aguilar calls your “impact on systems,” particularly in your unique and important work with English language learners and immigrant students and their families.
To help in this effort, we’ve put together some reflection questions with the input of some trusted advisors, which are also available in other formats below. We recommend exploring these questions through personal reflection (or perhaps some writing or artwork if you're so inclined) or conversation with others; they also may provide the basis for further in-depth conversation among colleagues or at the school level, which may be particularly helpful as you process this year and think about the next year.
In addition, we have included some questions for students that might be of interest as writing or discussion prompts.
This Year’s Challenges and Opportunities
What were some of the biggest challenges I faced this year?
What strengths did I show in addressing those challenges?
Who or what helped me address those challenges?
What opportunities did those challenges create?
What did I learn about:
- my students’ lives, families, and past experiences?
- my colleagues?
- my school community?
- my local community?
How did I take care of and nurture myself this past year?
From Teaching Tolerance: What would I say to my beginning-of-the-year self if I could go back in time?
"If I knew then what I know now...."
Teaching During COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Success Stories
My Students and Their Families
What are some of the key challenges my students and their families faced this year?
How were students and their families differently impacted by these challenges?
What helped my students and their families begin to address those challenges?
What opportunities resulted from those challenges?
What strengths did my students and their families show in addressing those challenges?
What is something my students accomplished this year?
How did they grow over the course of the year academically and personally?
My Role & Looking Ahead
What kinds of advocacy work did I do this year on behalf of my ELLs?
What impact did I have on my students and their families?
How do I see my role for the coming year? Has my role (or my idea of my role) changed over the course of the year?
How can I support my own growth through professional activities, networks, or my teacher's union?
Are there local connections I can make or develop (such as community partnerships with organizations, universities or local businesses) to help me support my students even more effectively in the coming year?
For additional reflection questions related to your professional role, take a look at Elena Aguilar’s Questions for Reflecting on a Year of Learning.
Ending on a Positive Note
What is something I accomplished this year?
In what ways have I grown professionally and personally?
What lessons will I be taking into my teaching in the future?
What has given me hope?
What has brought me joy?
Who or what was particularly helpful in a moment when I needed it?
Which colleague had a positive impact on my students this year?
What is something I did that made a difference for someone else?
Questions for Students
A challenge or difficult moment for me this year was when….
The way I took care of myself during this challenge was….
This challenge reminded me that I have many strengths, such as….
An opportunity that came from this challenge was….
The impact of this year on my future might be that….
One thing I am worried about is….
One thing that gave/gives me hope was….
One thing that gave/gives me joy was…
One thing I am especially proud of is…
An adult who helped me was….
Something nice that a classmate did for me was….
A time that I made a difference for another person was when…
Next year, I am excited to….
This year, I learned that…
For more on the importance of reflecting as well as some resources that will help you think about your role, take a look at the following:
- Teachers Reflect on 2020-2021 During Teacher Appreciation Week (TapIntoHawthorne)
- Questions to Ask Yourself as the School Year Winds Down by Justin Minkel (Education Week)
- Reflecting on a Year of Learning by Elena Aguilar (Education Week)
- You Are Already a Leader: Identifying Your Leadership Skills on Behalf of ELLs by Diane Staehr Fenner