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End-of-Year Resource Audit [Episode 131]

end-of-year audit

Click below to do an end-of-year audit:

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, your mind is on summer, relaxing, and taking a break from school. The last thing you probably want to do is start thinking about next school year. However, that’s exactly what I want you to do! While everything is still fresh in your mind, it’s important to take the time to reflect on the year and do an end-of-year audit. In the first episode of this two-part series, I’m going to share how to do an end-of-year audit as an assessment of your instructional resources and why that’s going to help you have a better year next school year.

I love wrapping up the school year with an end-of-year audit because it truly helps serve me and my students in the future. It’s so important to have the right instructional resources in order to improve your student’s understanding and teach them the content in an effective and efficient way. Since I want this to be helpful for you, I’m going to walk you through how I do this resource audit with examples and questions to fully give you all the information you need to conduct an audit yourself.

Even though you have a million things to do to wrap up the school year, take some time to do an end-of-year audit. Remember that instructional resources are the tools for connecting content with students and making it make sense for them, which is why this resource audit is so important and valuable. By doing it now, you will have the best opportunity to have a successful school year for you and your students when you return to school in the fall!

Topics Discussed:

  • Reasons why doing an end-of-year audit on your instructional resources is so important and how knowing this information affects your student’s understanding of the content
  • An example of how I do my resource audit, along with questions to ask yourself about each unit taught
  • How doing this end-of-year audit will help your future self in the fall and your new group of students
  • Why you can use the summer months to help fill in any gaps you found through doing the end-of-year audit

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.

Rebecca 0:00
The end of the year is in sight to your friends. I don’t know about you, but where I live, we are only about two weeks out of being done for the summer. And now I know there are other regions that still have over a month to go. And so if you’re listening to this, I just want you to know, hang in there, okay. But whether you have six weeks or six days left, I want to help you serve future you, by doing a little end of year audit, I like to do something like this at the end of every school year, I just think it’s so helpful. So this is going to be a two part episode because I want to keep it short and sweet. So that then you can go out and actually do all the things I’m challenging you to do. These are gonna be incredibly actionable. And I want you to have the time to apply what you hear. And then we’ll do part two next week, we are beginning our audit this week of your year by doing an assessment of your instructional resources that you used this past year, and we are going to prioritize the courses that you’re for sure gonna be teaching next year. So if there’s one that you’re not 100% sure yet, you know, things can always change up until the last minute. Let’s start with the ones that are like your bread and butter courses. You always teach four sections of biology. So you’re definitely going to do that one. Okay. Are you ready to dive in? Let’s do 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 spent 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.

Okay, before we jump into the how I feel like I just need to share very brief why and why I think this is so important. And why basically, every May for the you know, duration of this podcast, I will probably have some sort of episodes like this. This is just so important because having the right instructional resources, that is just such an opportunity to improve your student’s understanding of the content you’re teaching. But of course, also the test results like I know so many of you are under pressure, because you’ve got these EOC exams or the AP exam or whatever thing that your state does that you have to do, or whatever high stakes situation that you’re in, or maybe you teach seniors so that it’s high stakes, because you’re trying to get them to graduate, or you’re teach freshmen and it’s high stakes, because you’re trying to get them out of the Freshman Academy to the next level, whatever it may be. Our instructional resources are our tools for connecting content with students and making it make sense for them. So being able to audit them and making sure that we’re using great instructional resources is so important. And I also feel like this is a great time of year to be pitching to admin, if we want their financial support and purchasing resources and purchasing curriculum and saying, hey, you know, as it’s yours running out, I’m planning for next year, look how proactive I am, I really want to do the best for my students. I want to put this on your radar, as opposed to waiting until the time comes and you’re about to teach evolution for you know, the sixth year in a row and you hate everything you have, and you want to buy an evolution unit or an evolution lab. But you’re you know, you feel like your principal, it’s too much on them too quick, and they can’t make a decision. You can put these kinds of things before them really far and advanced, I think is really helpful for getting them to say yes. Okay, not only that, I just think about mentally as a teacher, the days I was so excited to be there, or the days that I was teaching a topic I just love or was super passionate about, or we were doing a lab or activity that I knew was just like a homerun slam dunk, they are going to either love this and or it can make so much sense they’re going to understand this about it much better after we do this. Those were the days I really looked forward to. And honestly, I always looked forward to test day because it was really quiet. And as an introvert, it was a nice recharge day for me. But we’re not talking about tests right now. But I just really want you to know, I think you could maybe be so much more excited to walk into work every day if you had instructional resources you are excited to implement. And I also think with labs and activities in particular, so much of the stress is not having the right ones. And so you’re putting a bunch of prep work and time and potentially money into something. You know, that’s just not a home run. It’s not crazy clear or it’s such a headache to do and then they still don’t understand or the data is always hit or miss so it feels like it’s a flop. You don’t want to be doing that. We want to make sure that all of the time you’re putting into prep for a lab is going to give you a slam dunk lab experience in at the very end, or at the very least, they’re going to get to use a lot of equipment and or build up their skills with writing and error analysis, I think that is really important to consider. And then the last thing I’ll say is in terms of the timeliness of this audit, I just think doing this now, while it’s fresh from the school year, is so important. It’s in your memory now. And then also, you’re going to have more space this summer to kind of fill in the gaps that we’re going to point out as we go through this process. And I think if you push off and even wait until next school year, if you wait until the unit’s about to start, you’re not going to have time, because you’re going to be grading tests from the previous unit, and maybe projects and tutoring kids and like all these other things are going to pop up the sport you have to coach. So I feel like these are the kinds of things that now is a great time to just reflect reflection is a very to me low energy task. So this is a great thing to do while you’re proctoring final exam or something like that, or sitting at, you know, a baseball game for your students that you’re watching, like, go through this process, and then use the space that you have this summer to just try to fill in the gaps practically. And you’re already gonna have planned it all out through this process. So now let’s jump into the how we’re going to do this, I want you to basically do a SWOT analysis for your instructional resources. So what you’re going to do is you’re gonna get one piece of paper, and you’re going to do one piece per unit, I would take this along the top of it, I like to do things by hand, because I’m just old school. So I would be doing this by hand, I would write the name of the unit, like my sells unit, and then I’d write the time of the year, I usually teach it, you could do something like quarter one, quarter two, quarter three, quarter four, you know, you could just say early fall right before winter break any sort of timestamps on it, I think are really helpful. I also number my unit. So I would say like cells unit would be unit two, and it’s in quarter one. And then on that pager to make a grid. So basically four boxes, a two by two square situation and label it Swat. So S is for strength, W is for weaknesses, O is for opportunities, and T is for threats. Okay, now, what does this mean in terms of reflecting on a units, instructional resources? When you’re thinking about strengths? So I’m going to be thinking about my cells unit, I would be thinking, what went well, when I taught cells this year, what were things that maybe were like a slam dunk hit, it helped so much that we did XYZ. So for example, the year that I took my cell organelle notes slides, I took those, and I printed them out one slide per 8.5 by 11 page, I laminated them and I made each slide that I used to lecture through, I made it a station, and I had students take their note outlines and walk around and do that for 30 minutes. And then we came back and I just hit the highlights and they kind of highlighted things on their notes. That was a strength. Like when I made that decision. That was a game changer. That lecture was always so boring. It was always hard because half the kids did remember stuff from seventh grade life science, the other half didn’t. But I felt like because at least half didn’t I did soft to go through them. There were just so many things there. But that was a strength. So I would put that I would say the cell organelles notes becoming stations was a strength. And I would list all the different strengths there for weaknesses. Okay, that’s where it’s like, Okay, what did not really go well like what was not really a huge hit, or what was a really big miss. And we want to do strong opinions only here. A lot of things might be medium, and not really a pro or con or strength or weakness. Let’s leave those off. For now. We’re really just trying to hit the things that we really, really need to hit. So for example, if I go all the way back to my student teaching, thinking about my cells unit, then I did what my student teaching advisor did you know my mentor teacher, and I taught mitosis and meiosis together in my cells unit, and kids absolutely failed. That part of the exam for the unit, and my teacher said, oh, yeah, this like happens every year. So that would have been something I put in the weaknesses, kids failing the mitosis and meiosis section of the test. So that might be something you put there. I know now, because that change I made to fix that was the first fix I did was testing them separately, just texting mitosis, then just testing meiosis. But then I finally realized, Wait, these don’t even need it. Why are we teaching these in sequence, these processes don’t even happen in sequence. And that’s when I made the amazing change of putting mitosis in my cells unit and saving meiosis are my genetics unit, which I’ve literally an entire podcast episode about because I’m so passionate about this. So I will share that the blog post all those things in the show notes, but that’s an example of a weakness from my past, I would have put in that column. B. You’re just thinking of your past school year. I’m just giving you examples. Okay, so then you’re going to list your weaknesses. What did not go well? Oh, another thing I’ll say there too, about the neutral things. I do like the gummy bear osmosis lab. I have my own version of that in my I sell the unit. And that’s kind of one of those that I feel like can be hit or miss. Sometimes the gummy bears just completely dissolve. And it’s hard to get great data. But it’s still, to me, it’s not a strength or a weakness. It’s not the highlight of the unit. And it’s not a weakness, because it’s not like horrible. And I would say it’s medium. So I’m not going to touch that. Because here’s the thing that kids love using gummy bears, when they get really large, that’s really fun. Even though they usually dissolve and break apart and we get bad data, when we add the salt, that’s fine, because you still get the numbers will still do what you want them to do for the math. And then they’re still going to get great practice, graphing, and there’s a lot of other things in that lab that are positives. So that’s just something that’s kind of a neutral. It’s not a slam dunk, homeruns situation, but it’s also not a weakness, so that would not go. So you’re not writing down every single thing in your entire unit. I want to emphasize that we’re not touching every instructional resource. And they don’t need to all go in a box. But we’re just highlighting strengths and weaknesses here. Now. Oh, for opportunities. This is where you’re asking yourself, Where can I improve? So this is where you’re going to want to look at those weaknesses and say, what’s an opportunity to improve this here. For instance, once upon a time, one of my weaknesses was my concept one notes about cell theory and organelles are so long, and it’s so boring, and I try not to lecture for more than 15 minutes at a time. So an opportunity there would be, I need to specifically change the concept one notes so that they are shorter, either chunking them up or doing a different strategy. And that’s where I ended up choosing to do the station cards, which was so easy, because it was a barely to do any effort to change anything. And so on this opportunities, column or box, my charge for you is be as specific as possible. For instance, that example, I wouldn’t just be like change notes, how are we going to change the notes, I would try to decide right now I want to either chunk these, I want to come up with more activities to chunk up these notes and break them up into smaller pieces with fun activities. Or I want to come up with a new way to disseminate this information. Maybe I’m gonna have them watch a video next year and flip this concept to a flipped classroom. This concept I don’t know, but be specific. And then my other challenge for you is be concise. Your opportunities, we want like one to two ideas per unit max. And I know you may be thinking, Rebecca, I just listed eight weaknesses. Okay, if that’s the case, if you have that many weaknesses in a unit, so many more weaknesses than a strength. That’s where I would potentially recommend you considering investing in purchasing a unit for that topic that someone else has written. It can be an It’s not rocket science unit. But it doesn’t have to be there’s a gajillion teachers creating resources on the internet right now that you can use. So I’m not trying to say I’m like the end all be all. But I think if you have so many negatives, you might just need to take a totally new approach to this entire unit. And I don’t want you to do more than one or two things because then you’re not going to have time for all your other units. And we want to get a hand we want to make a little tweak to every unit. So be concise, one or two specific things you can change. If you feel like you have so many weaknesses, you don’t even know where to begin, then maybe you’re one thing you write down here is I’m going to purchase a unit on TBT for cells or for evolution or for stoichiometry for the chemistry teachers out there because I’m so sick of teaching it the way I’ve been teaching it and I just need like a complete refresh. I think it’s really overwhelming to consider investing in an entire li new curriculum, but just to get one unit is going to be a smaller financial investment and it’s just like an experiment, try it out the unit is probably going to be anywhere from three to six weeks. Okay, if you don’t like it then that was three to six weeks of the year. It’s not like the whole year is totally lost. So that’s what I encourage for the opportunity section. Okay, so we did our strengths or weaknesses and our opportunities last you’re going to do threats and then the threats column this is where you’re going to list out anything you need to consider that this used to be on your mind as you’re making these opportunities you know become a reality. Okay, so for example, things that I would consider threats personally. The month of January. I consider the month of January a personal attack. No I’ve talked about this before but I just have serious down in the dumps vibes coming out of winter break into January. I get a little bit of bursts of energy with the new year because I like like new year new me new challenge clean up my house, black trash bag energy but at school I was always like the most depressed in January. It’s cold I can’t take kids outside. You know, there’s no holidays. We don’t have really any day. We had one day off, you know in January for one long weekend, but January was just a hard month for me. So if it’s a unit that falls in January, I would write January as a threat like this time of year. This is something you need to consider. Maybe the unit you’re on is during spirit week into something you need to consider is a It’s completely not worth it to assign any homework during spirit week, because they’re not going to do it. Or maybe you have an EOC. And you need to build in prep time, or this is like 20% of the EOC every year. So that’s a threat, that’s something you really need to consider as you’re planning this unit and auditing it. Maybe you’re auditing a unit that’s at the very end of your school year. And it’s too hard. And you’re like, we’re always cramming this really hard stuff in right before the exam, I don’t have enough time for it. So maybe the threat is considering rearranging your sequence so that it’s not there at the end, and you’re not running out of time for it, which we’ll talk about your sequence more at the end of this episode. Or maybe you have a really hard class like an AP class, and there’s a drop window, like kids can drop within the first four weeks of the class A, you need to really make sure you kind of start with some hard stuff to give them a really strong dose of what the class is, so that they have the chance to leave before the drop window expires. You know, I don’t know, these are just ideas, the threats can be anything, maybe in the fall, you coach a sport, and in the spring you don’t. So a threat in the fall is every single unit, you would maybe right, my threat is that and something I need to consider is that I’m coaching during this unit. And so like, I can’t be grading 50 lab reports and 100 projects, and whatever. So that’s the kind of things I want you to consider for threats. And then this is really important. After you’ve done the SWOT the SW OT, especially after the threats, I want you to circle back to your opportunities and reevaluate those and make sure that you’re thinking about those opportunities in light of the threats, if you want to just do the threat. So for the opportunities, that’s fine, too. But I do think it kind of helps to think about it multiple times. And then I want you to make one of these one pagers for each of your units in a class. And then hopefully for each prep if you have time, and then take these, put them in a binder, staple them, put them in a folder, whatever this is your summer, you’re not going to like write an entire curriculum for a new course, or you’re not going to, I don’t know, take on some new training or something like that, instead, you’re going to spend your summer working through these you’ve already done all of the hard work of reflecting. Now you’re just going to go through and one at a time, work on the opportunities and fill in those gaps and make those replacements that you need. Gil, imagine how good it would feel for turning to school in the fall and knowing you need one to two really meaningful changes to each unit. And you can be excited about seeing if those potential solutions, you know, change your weaknesses column for next year. I think that’d be so awesome. Now, two last things I want to say to you before I let you go and actually do this lab specific things. I want you to use this process for all instructional resources and really looking at your unit as a whole. But I also know that labs are their own animal. Last year, I made a lab audit spreadsheet, and it’s awesome. So if you go to It’s not rocket science classroom.com/labs, you can get that lab audit, it’s free, you’ll need to make a copy of it for your Google Drive so that then you can edit it. But the key here is that lab document, you need to listen to episode 74 while you do it, Episode 74. We’ll explain all about how to do that lab audit. Also, I will say in that episode 74. I talked about a plan for like a lab mini course that I had to plan to write last summer and then chemistry got away from me, so I never wrote it. But I am I really working on it for this summer. So I’m hoping I’ll have a little lab mini course for you guys out this summer for PD, but TBD on that I just want to address that before you go back and listen to 74. But if you want specific help with labs, that’s like a secondary audit you can do that’s really specific to labs, and you’re seeing over and over again. And your weaknesses that labs are your biggest pain point each unit, then you definitely need to take the time to do the lab audit and grab that for free and listen to episode 74. So let’s recap here. You now are going to go through this you’re going to SWOT each of their units. If you’re seeing weaknesses end up being a lot of lab things, you’re also going to do that lab audit. Okay. Now if you really want some extra credit, here’s the last thing I’ll encourage you to do. Episode 80. It’s one of my most listened to episodes of 2023. It’s all about strategizing your sequence. I am insanely passionate about really thinking strategically about the sequence of your units and the topics that you teach. I think it’s so important. I probably spent four months of my chemistry curriculum writing process, reading standards and studying them and all that but really talking to teachers and thinking through the sequence because it’s so hard to decide on some of the things. So episode 80 I walk you through 10 questions to ask yourself as you audit your sequence to decide if you’re truly teaching your units in the right order or not. That episode This is a start of like a curriculum design series I did last summer, you didn’t get into all that this next summer if you want to. But Episode 80, I think is a game changer. This is such a great time to redo your sequence, y’all. If you have always wanted to kind of switch things up like now is the time to consider it for next year. And if you’re like, Well, we have a district mandated sequence. Like I always say, how required is required, you know, because maybe your district mandated sequence sucks, because it has you teaching mitosis and meiosis together. And that doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t help our students at all. And I will die on that hill. So maybe that’s something you need to reconsider. I will link in the show notes. Like I have a blog post that explains my scope and sequence for biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physical science. And then in those blog posts, I have a link where you can put in your email address and get my like pacing guides for biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physical science for free. So I’ll link those so you have this for an idea. But truly telling you thinking through your sequence, and making sure you’re considering all those threats that you just listed. Like I said, for me, I know a lot of people teach ecology at the beginning of the year in biology. I like to teach it at the end of the year for a lot of reasons. But one of the main reasons is I had a biology EOC. And sometimes we’d be running behind schedule because of being out of school for hurricanes and stuff. And ecology was arguably the easiest topic for my students to understand. So I liked it at the end of the year, because if I had eight weeks, if you buy a college unit for biology, it’s an eight week unit. It’s a doozy. I’ve two tests in it, we cover six concepts, it’s a lot, but I could take that and condense it to two weeks if I need to do because that’s how easy it would be for me to truckload through that information. But it’s a really fun unit. So I like a gajillion labs and instructional resources in it. So I like to keep those in and in the year with all these fun hands on things if I can, but it’s great to have at the end of the year, because worst case, if I have to, you know, squish it down I can I can’t squish down, you know, dihybrid Punnett squares, I can’t squish down macromolecules or evolution, but I can squish down ecology. So these are the types of things you’re going to ask yourself as you’re strategizing your sequence that’s episode 80. I’ll link it in the show notes you can find all those at it’s not rocket science classroom.com/episode 131 And I would love it if you leave a review today if you are excited to do these audits of your instructional resources. And if you do them well you DM me on Instagram. My handle is it’s dot not dot rocket dot science. If you search Rebecca Joyner or search isn’t rocket science, it should come up and you’ll see my face and stuff like that. But I love hearing from you guys. And I especially love like I can see the numbers of like how many people listen the podcast episodes, so I know people listen. But it just feels extra exciting to know people really take action steps from the episode. So I would love to hear from you. And tune in next week, we’ll kind of do part two of auditing and reflecting on our year. It will be less homework. So get excited for that. And I’ll hopefully connect with you then.

Unknown Speaker 23:06
All right, teacher friends.

Rebecca 23:08
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 rooting for you Teacher grand

 

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