Reflecting on the Fall Semester
Congratulations! Fall 2023 is a wrap. We can all be proud of what we helped our students accomplish during our time together this semester. Now that we’re done (or almost done, if you’re still grading) we get the pleasure of reflecting on what we’ve learned, too.
Because the term ends with several time-sensitive tasks, it’s easy to lose the opportunity, but it’s worth taking some time to reflect on the semester. We recommend focusing first on what worked best, what was meaningful, and what you’re proud of this term. For example, which course goals were you delighted to see students attain? What activities really moved them along? How did you see your student grow, not only intellectually and professionally, but also personally this term? Did you create a classroom community to be proud of? Did you help students develop new perspectives? Did your mentorship shape someone’s future? Giving yourself credit for what worked well is not only good for morale, it can help you identify which teaching practices were most effective, and what you want to intentionally continue doing in the future.
Next, you can flip through the schedule on the syllabus or on Canvas and identify what didn’t work exactly the way you hoped, and what could be improved through some tinkering. You might note, for example, any in-class activities that flopped, or assignments that didn’t help students practice the skills you thought they would. You might consider the pacing of the course, whether students needed more or less time to understand a concept or develop a skill. You could think about your priorities and whether the work students spent the most time on aligned with those priorities. You could identify anywhere that your expectations and students’ interpretation of them didn’t match up. Perhaps most importantly, you can consider whether students’ grades accurately reflected their learning.
Some of the changes we want to make to our courses may be structural, and others may be more focused. Sometimes we just want to tweak a few homework assignments, and others, we want to throw out the textbook and start over. Of course, we don’t have to make all the changes right now, but if we take note before we forget, when we sit down to prepare our spring courses, we’ll have a record of our best advice to ourselves.
If you’d like some support to reflect on the fall semester and make plans for spring, please contact us for a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you!