The last school year long ago came to an end. You are now deep into your summer break, and the last thing you want to do is go back in time. You definitely don’t want to revisit the failures of the previous year as you’re relaxing by the pool or binge-watching your favorite TV shows. But I would like to challenge you to consider that reflecting on last year’s failures can be the springboard to developing a plan to succeed in the new school year.
In John C. Maxwell’s book Failing Forward, he shares the stories of important people and the many failures they experienced on their way to greatness. The powerful message in each story was that every one of them used their failures to set the path for their overall success. They did this by refusing to give up and reflecting on each failure as a means to cultivate a plan to become better. For example, Colonel Sanders had trouble convincing others that his chicken recipe would have entire households licking their fingers and shouting, “This is good!” He was turned down more than 1,000 times before he met that one person who said, “This is worthy to be shared with the world.” He utilized his failures to push him forward.
The work you do as an educator is challenging, and while you may not have experienced any major “failures,” there are always aspects of our professional lives that we can improve. So, what are they? What are those things you promised yourself you would do differently next year? It may be improving overall test scores, reducing tardiness, or decreasing office referrals. This is where the power of reflection comes into play.
As you begin to reflect on those challenges—or better yet, opportunities—from last year, here are a few steps that will support you in developing a plan to succeed. Grab a notepad and a pen, and let’s take a journey back in time (cue, Huey Lewis’ “Back in Time” now).
Step 1: Reflect on the previous school year.
Think about your campus or classroom from the start of the day to the very end. Make two columns. On one side, list all of the things that went well and that you considered successful. On the other side, list all of the things that did not go well or were considered failures. For example: