How Did You Do This Year? [Episode 76]


Click below to reflect on how you did this year:

If you’re anything like me, you want to just make it through the last couple weeks of school and say GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE to another school year! But, before you close up your classroom for the summer, I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on the school year and ask yourself, “How did I do?” 

You may already be completely focused on just making it to summer and then checking out for a week or two as you recover and can function normally again. But I think it is so important to take a look back at your year and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What did I do really well this school year?
  2. What did I NOT do really well this school year?
  3. Where does it seem like the majority of my time went?
  4. Where does it seem like the majority of my energy/mental load went?
  5. What do I want to do MORE of next year?
  6. What do I want to do LESS of next year?

Once you reflect on these questions, WRITE them out and put them in your pencil drawer or paper clip them to your planner so when you return in August, it is the first thing that you see!

Remember to grab the calendar for the next few months of our FREE Podcast PD, share it with a science teacher friend and encourage them to join you in a summer filled with practical, relevant, and SIMPLIFIED PD.

Topics Discussed:

  • Why it is important to take the time to reflect on the year before you leave for the summer
  • Six questions you should ask yourself as you think back on the year
  • How to dig deeper into the answers to these questions 
  • Why you should be writing down your answers to these questions

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes and Blog Posts:

Connect with Rebecca:

More about Secondary Science Simplified: 

Secondary Science Simplified is a podcast specifically for high school science teachers that will help you to engage your students AND simplify your life as a secondary science educator. Each week Rebecca, from It’s Not Rocket Science, and her guests will share practical and easy-to-implement strategies for decreasing your workload so that you can stop working overtime and start focusing your energy doing what you love – actually teaching!

Teaching doesn’t have to be rocket science, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to simplify your secondary science teaching life so that you can enjoy your life outside of school even more. Head to itsnotrocketscienceclassroom.com/challenge to grab your FREE Classroom Reset Challenge.

You’re listening to episode number 76 of the secondary science simplified podcast. The year is rapidly coming to a close for many of you and for others, the finish line is just a few weeks away. I know for me, I often just want to put my head down and just bulldoze through to the end so I can get to summer and say, Goodbye and good riddance to another school year. But before you lock that door for the last time, both physically and mentally on your classroom this year, I think it is important to take just a few minutes to really think through this year and ask yourself, How did I do? And today I’m going to help you to do exactly that. I have six questions I want you to ask yourself before shutting the door on this year, and one action step I want you to take to help serve future you next year. Are you ready to take an honest look at this last school year? I’ll be with you the whole time, I promise. Let’s get to it. This is secondary science simplified a podcast for secondary science teachers who want to engage their students and simplify their lives. I’m Rebecca joiner from it’s not rocket science. As a high school science teacher turned curriculum writer, I am passionate about helping other science teachers love their jobs, serve their students, and do it all in only 40 hours a week. Are you ready to rock the time you spend in your classroom and actually have a life outside of it? You are in the right place teacher friend. Let’s get to today’s episode.

It is officially week

three of our summer podcast PD series all summer long. I’m doing free PD on the pod to make up for the fact that I’m not offering my secondary science simplified professional development course this year, because I wanted to free up some space to really focus on writing my chemistry curriculum this summer. So we’re going to do this summer podcast PD instead. And if you want to snag the calendar in an episode reflection sheet, those are free and available to you. You just need to head to It’s not rocket science, classroom.com/podcast PD. And you can see what is coming all summer long. Now first, I want to speak to those of you listeners living in the southern part of the United States. And I just want to say Happy official summer break to you. I think this episode is really well timed for you as you wrap up your school year. I think this is a great one that you can listen to while you’re laying by the pool, drinking an Arnold Palmer from Chick fil A, which is my personal favorite summer drink. But you may have a different summer drink that you’d like to drink. And just give this a listen as you think back on this past school year. Now, for everyone else in every other part of the world that is still in the classroom for another week, or maybe another four weeks. Don’t tune me out. I think this episode may give you the encouragement you need as you finish out these last few weeks. You can listen while you work on distributing your deflect, donate and death piles. And if you don’t know what I’m referring to go back and give episode 75 a listen. Now I know for me personally, like I mentioned at the top of the episode, I get tunnel vision towards summer as it approaches, I take the car off cruise control, and I push the speed limit while I keep my eyes on that finish line. And then I end up usually kind of tumbling into summer so exhausted from the school year that it takes me like a week or two just to start functioning and being a contributing member of society again, because I don’t know about you, but I kind of have two modes of operation do either 100% or 0%. There is no in between. And that is something I am very much working on. But because of this, I don’t tend to be a very good stopper and reflector. Like I’m not good at that. I usually like get through things. And then my my eyes are just on the next thing that’s ahead of me and I just go right through them. And I’m really not good at taking the time just to ponder or just mentally Pause and consider. And so if you are like me, I hope this episode equips you today, because it’s been a helpful practice for me as well. Here’s what I want you to do. Today, we’re going to ask ourselves, How did I do this school year? So as you think back on this year, even if it isn’t quite over yet, how do you feel like you did. And I am going to ask you a couple questions of four questions to start, then we’ll kind of think about those a little bit more. And then we’ll end with two more questions. We’re also going to start positive, maybe get a little bit more negative and then we’re going to come back and in positive again. It’s all going to come full circle. Okay, so hang with me here. First, I want you to ask yourself, What did I do really well this school year. And you’ll I think this is worth taking the time to write down. Even if you’re just opening a notes on your phone, you know that little notes app. I love that and just jotting these things down. I think putting it on paper is really, really helpful. And I also think it’s really easy to only see the negatives like to look back on this school year and be like, Wow, that was a doozy. and not think about what what did I do really well. A practice in our family and a little rhythm in our family is every night at dinner, we ask what was your favorite part of the day. And it’s so cute. Because now if we forget, like my three year old, or my five year old will usually be the one to bring it up, like, hey, what was your favorite part of the day when we had guests, they love to hear what the guests say. And it’s really really been a sweet rhythm for us. Because sometimes come 6pm with my five, three and one year olds, Mommy is d o n e for the day, and I’m looking back and the whole day looks like it’s been a dumpster fire. And it’s hard to remember what the positive parts were or what my favorite part was. And so I love this practice of intentionality that I have toddler accountability for, to really think about my day and pull something positive from it, even if it was a really hard day. So I want you to do the same with the school year. Even if you’re looking back and it looks like a dumpster fire and the rearview mirror. What was positive? What did you do really well, what went well? What are you proud of? Maybe what goals did you set that you actually hit? Or maybe what are things that happen that you didn’t even set out to do intentionally, I always kind of get surprised by that and get a little tickled when I see things that worked out in the school year that I maybe didn’t even set out to do, but kind of ended up happening. So I want you to write down all the things you did really well this year. And I want you to see those on paper, because I think that’s really impactful. Then after you’ve done that, I do want you to ask yourself, What did I not do really well this year? Okay, I think it is most important to start positive. But I also think it is important to acknowledge the not so great also. And I would write these down to okay, I would get these all on paper, because we’re going to come look back at these in a second. The third thing I want you to ask yourself is, where does it seem like the majority of my time went? Okay, so I want you to think back over your time and your schedule. And I want you to look at this two ways, I want you to look at it as a scope of like the whole week, looking at your week as a whole. Then also zoom in on how you spent the individual days within your week. And kind of summarize where was all of your time going? Like, where are we allocating most of our time, especially in the work day, since we’re really focusing on your school year right now, not just like your year in general, and all the personal things too. But really zoom in on your school day, and the time you’re in the building. And if you’re working from home, the time you’re working from home, which I hope you’re not doing because I don’t want anyone doing that and listen to this podcast. But think through any time you’re spending school related, and kind of summarize where the majority of it was going. And then lastly, I want you to consider where does it seem like the majority of my energy or my mental load went? Now you might be just quick to write down everything you just wrote for number three when I asked you about your time, but I really want you to sit and consider specifically your energy, like what was holding your mind most of this year, I say mental load because sometimes I think our mind can be so full of thoughts. And it is a load that we bear and that we carry and then that sucks energy out of us because our brain and our headspace is taken up by certain things that require a lot of space. And so I want you to think about that. I mean, there will most likely be some overlap to what that was taking most of your energy and mental load and where your time went. But hopefully, there are some differences too. And I want you to write those down as well. Okay, so you should have this list your answers to the four questions, what went well, what did not go? Well? Where was the majority of my time going, where’s the majority of my energy, slash mental load going? Okay, those are the four. Now let’s look back at what we wrote down and we’re gonna go in the reverse direction. So we’re gonna start negative and positive start with looking at where you spent your energy. If you had to narrow it down to the top three things that you care most about being remembered as a teacher, what would it be? Like if you want your students to look back and talk about what it was like to be in Miss joiners biology class in 2012? Well, what I hope that they would say, and then now I want you to look at your list of where you spend your energy and does it align does where you spent your energy most this past year aligned with like your top three goals and hopes and values as a teacher, because if not, we have severely become dismembered here or disoriented. We’re not in the right place here. Your energy is not being spent, where you actually value it being. Okay, so that’s something we want to take note of before a new school year. Okay, now go back and look at your answer to the third question I’d asked you where you’re spending the majority of your time. Okay, so narrow that down. What are the three areas that you kind of narrowed it down that you’re spending the most of your time doing? And look at those do those areas align with your top three goals and priorities and values as a teacher? that you just wrote down. And now while you’re looking at that, though, you do kind of need to consider what’s in your control what’s out of it. Okay? So were these, I’m going to refer to them as time sucks, just things that were sucking all of your time up that you have. Were these times sucks in your control or not. Okay? So for example, out of your control, if you teach five class periods out of a six class period of day, and your workdays like eight hours long, that means five or six hours of your workday are spent teaching, you cannot change anything about that, because you’re assigned to teach them during that time. Okay, so yeah, of course, like your number one thing you should be spending the most of your time doing is teaching, like actually teaching, but you and I both know, there’s so much else that goes into it other than actually teaching. So those kind of out of control, things like that, like how many hours you’re actually teaching students, those kind of, we’re gonna kind of move to the side, I really want to look at the time sucks that are more in your control, how you are spending your planning periods, your lunch, break your time before and after school, the time that you might have been working at home. What were you spending your time on there? And again, is it aligning with your top three priorities for yourself as a teacher, your main goals, your main values? I have been reading a secular book recently called essentialism. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction if I’m honest, not because I don’t think I need to grow. I think I need to grow a lot. I have plenty to read. I constantly have more nonfiction books, I want to read that really just because reading is like one of my only things I do for fun. And so I like to read fiction, I like to get into fantasy and murder thrillers and rom coms. Like, I love that. But I tried. My goal is to read, you know, five or six nonfiction books a year and challenge myself. And my other problem too is I treat every nonfiction book as a textbook. And I’m like writing and highlighting and outlining. Like, I get very invested in them, and can’t stop thinking about him. So I can’t read them at night, which is usually when I read so a lot of backstory you didn’t ask for about my reading habits. But I’m currently my nonfiction read right now is essentialism. And I’m, it’s really interesting. It’s it feels more like a business book, a business mindset that so much of it applies to any job, even your role in the home. And it’s this idea how we’re so quick to do a bunch of things 60 to 70% of the way rather than just picking one or maybe two things and doing them 100%. And the idea of essentialism is that less but better idea, I’m going to do less, but what I’m going to do, I’m going to do better. And I’m really thinking about that a lot. It’s kind of like my motto for the rest of this year less but better. I think I’ve told y’all I decided for 2023 I’m only focusing on the podcast, and the chemistry curriculum. And that is it. I stopped blogging, I’m not running my course this summer that I normally have done the last two summers, because I really was like I need to centralize and really focus on two things. And really, honestly, chemistry is number one, and then the podcast is kind of becomes secondary. But I enjoy doing this so much that like I’m willing to really, it kind of is like a reward as I finished a chemistry unit, I get to record another podcast or two. But really thinking less but better. And that might be something for you to chew on too, as you think about next year. And as you’re looking at where you spent your time versus what your goals are as a teacher, and if those aren’t aligning, maybe we need to do less but better next year. All right. Now think back to that question I asked about what you feel like you did not do really well this year. And I want you to consider what kept you from doing those things differently. I want to acknowledge here that a lot of this can be out of your control. Like things you did not do really well this year. And it could have been classroom management, you could have had like a horrible group of students that were just like the worst you’ve ever had, and the last 15 years you’ve been teaching, okay? You cannot control their personalities and like the combination of students. That’s the other thing too. I think so much of it is not actually the individual students. It’s the combinations. Like if you get these three people together, it’s like a disaster compared to if they were in all different sections, you know, but I digress. So I want you to think about is there anything you could have done differently now in retrospect, looking back not being in the moment? And or are there any like boundaries you could have set? Okay, so an example here that feels very relevant to my current life circumstances right now. As I’m a working from home, mom, part time work from home while I work 15 hours a week from home and then the rest. I’m like, full time mom is I do not do five to 7pm Well in my house, that’s a hard hard time for me. I’m exhausted from the day. I’m very overstimulated by the noise level of my house and also the fact that I have a 13 month old which means there is not a moment he’s awake where I’m not being touched by him and like Claude by him and slow arborlon by him, and I adore him, I’m so grateful. But by five to 7pm, at night, when I’m trying to cook dinner, I’m trying to you know, fold the laundry, get it, put it away, I’m trying to clean the disaster that is our home. And there’s a lot of noise, Everyone’s tired, everyone’s on edge, everyone wants daddy to come home. It’s just a hard, hard time for me and I usually the worst version of myself during that time of day. And so you know what I’ve decided I need better boundaries during that time of day. So for example, one, I try not to have my phone during this time. It’s a distraction. It causes me to be frustrated at my kids, and not really have capacity or margin to focus on them. And so I’ve started plugging my phone into charge, or just sit in our bedroom from five to 7pm at night, and I can look at it again, once the kids go to sleep, I don’t want the last like two hours of my kids wake time for them to look back and just see Mom tired mom on her phone. And I know I’m more prone to look and glance at my phone on social media, when I’m tired and wanting to kind of escape from my present reality. So no phone during that time is a good boundary for me. Also, something my friend told me actually today was prioritizing relationship overwrite. I’m an Enneagram one, which means I love black and white. I think there’s a right and wrong way to do everything. And it’s a curse. And I go to therapy to work on it, I promise. But it’s hard for me and I am. Justice is important to me and like doing things the right way. And this is not the time of day, I need to be prioritizing the right thing. And I need to prioritize relationship over everything. And knowing that relationally engaged with my head kids is really hard during this time. There’s other things I need to let go of. Okay, so those are some boundaries that I’ve had to set just like, literally this week, I’ve set in my home to help me with this, because I’m not doing really well from five to 7pm. Okay. And so that’s what I want you to think of what are some boundaries that you need to set. And I think one of the boundaries that’s going to come up is probably with your email. And so don’t worry, because next week’s episode is entirely devoted to that. So that’s a boundary need to set, I’m going to help you stay tuned. And then also, if grading, you need to set some better boundaries there, we’re going to talk about grading all of the month of September. So stay tuned for that too, because I have a lot to say about that, too. All right. And then the last thing I want you to look back on and reflect on is what you did really well this year. And I first want to encourage you to celebrate, no matter what else happened this year, look at what you did. Even if you only wrote down one win, which I know that you can come up with more than one. But if you only wrote down one thing, that’s huge. That’s one thing. individual moments are difference makers. When I look back at my life and the course of my life, and people who have impacted me, a lot of those people, yes, it was like a long term relationship where you know, I maybe they’re my teacher for a year or my mentor for several years or something like that. But a lot of the things that are actually held in my memory are individual moments. And so even if you feel like you only had one individual moment with one student that mattered, that’s a win. That’s a difference maker. And I guarantee you have more than that to say I want you to celebrate, I also want you to consider what led you to doing those things? Well, maybe what did you prioritize intentionally or not? That kind of brought these things about? And let’s do more of that next year. Which leads me to my last two questions before I let you go. And this is something my husband asked me every year on my birthday. And I asked him on his and then we also usually talk about this on our anniversary as well. And that’s what do I want to do more of next year? And what do I want to do less of next year? Okay, so more of this and less of this? And I want you to write that down as well. What do you want to do more of next year, less of next year as well. And here’s my action set for you today. Right out your answers these questions. I know you’re probably thinking and ruminating on them while I’m talking. But I really think putting it on paper is helpful. And if you want to refer to the questions again, without having to you know, re listen to this, you can go the show notes, which you can always find it’s always my website URL slash the episode number. So like for this episode 76 It’s It’s not rocket science classroom.com/episode 76. You can also just always go to SN architects classroom.com and then click the podcast tab and search or just see what pops up there. But I want you to write this down, or you type it I want you to type it out and then print it out. And here’s what I want you to do. I want you to put it in that little pencil drawer in your desk, or put it on top of your desk if no one’s going to be in your classroom until next fall, or paper clip it to your paper planner. So when you open it up to August to start planning in August, it’s the first thing you see. Because I want you to take some space from these words I do I want you to write this down. I think it’s a cathartic exercise to get this all out on paper from this past year. But I do want you to put it away, and enjoy your summer. But I do want you to revisit these words, a new a few months from now, as you move into a new school year, and look back at how you were feeling at the end of this school year, and hopefully the motion and kind of how you’re feeling will be reflected on the paper, and kind of what you’re hoping for this upcoming school year is already there. And you can see if you still resonate with that, and then carry that into the new school year, as a way to guide how you’re going to prioritize and run your classroom this next school year, I think it’s going to be such a helpful practice for you. And so I would love for you to do it. And I genuinely hope you find this helpful. And if you do, if you like this podcast, I would love if you would leave a rating and review. I know not everyone listens on Apple podcast. But that’s one of the best places to leave a review, because they’re so easily seen on anyone who hasn’t iPhones phone. And your reviews really do make a difference. Like people come to the podcast. And they may see kind of what it’s about, but they may not listen unless they see a review that really resonates with them. And so I would be so grateful if you would do that. And like I’ve been saying stay tuned for more podcasts PD all summer long. There is so much goodness ahead, y’all. Like I said, we’re talking email next week, I think it’s gonna be really helpful. And I think doing what I asked you in this episode, asking yourself, How did I do? That reflection is going to be helpful as we move into other more practical and specific topics for you to be able to refer back to this and what you wrote down as you engage are some of the more practical content coming up in the next few months. And remember, you can go to It’s not rocket science classroom.com/podcast PD and get the calendar for the next few months. And listen for that link to a friend or print them out a calendar to and see if a science teacher friend wants to join you and learning and growing this summer like this could be your own little science teacher, podcast club instead of a book club where you guys listen every week, and then you talk about it and you challenge each other, and you hold each other accountable moving into the next school year. I’m really trying to set this up as a way for science teachers to learn and grow in a way that’s free and practical and relevant. But most of all simplified because the number one thing I want you doing this summer is resting. So I’m hoping that this will help you with little bite size pocket podcast PD all summer long. And I can’t wait to spend this time with you.

I’ll see y’all next week. All right, teacher friends. That wraps up today’s episode. If you’re looking for an easy way to start simplifying your life as a secondary science teacher, head to It’s not rocket science classroom.com/challenge to grab your classroom reset challenge. And guess what? It’s totally free. Thanks so much for tuning in and I’ll see you here next week. Until then, I’ll be cheering you on teacher friend!

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