End-of-Year Personal Reflection – 6 Questions to Ask Yourself [Episode 132]


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

I love taking the time to reflect both professionally and personally because it helps me grow as a teacher and as a person. So when I was in the classroom, I made it a habit to spend some time at the end of the school year to reflect on how the year went. In last week’s episode, I had you reflect on your instructional resources in order to help prepare for next year, so now I’m going to ask that you reflect as a whole and think about how the year went. In today’s episode, I’m sharing six end-of-year reflection questions to ask yourself in order to be more effective as a teacher next school year.

When it comes to the six end-of-year reflection questions, I want you to designate time to think, reflect, and take the space you need to answer them honestly and thoroughly. The questions range from what you did well, what didn’t go well, what you want to do more or less of, and how to improve your work-life balance. Even though your answers are going to be personalized and geared towards your individual needs and teaching experience, I do provide you with example answers to the questions to help spark your own ideas. 

As you approach the end of the school year, the long list of content you taught, activities you tried, labs you did, and so many more daily tasks can sometimes get lost in the transition to summer. However, I encourage you to find the time to ponder my six end-of-year reflection questions that are so valuable to your growth as a teacher, a way to close out the year while starting fresh with a new school year in the fall.

Topics Discussed:

  • Six end-of-year reflection questions to ask yourself to help prepare you for the next school year
  • A list of ways to do a practical manual labor reflection and resource audit to get you ready and organized for the fall
  • The importance of taking space and time to think about each question in order to get the most growth out of it
  • Why knowing your season of life and different life circumstances that come up throughout the year can really impact your productivity and effectiveness during the school year

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
I don’t know what the weather is like where you are right now listening to this podcast episode, but while I’m recording it, it is a dark and dreary, rainy day. I don’t know if the thunder that’s going on is going to be picked up on this recording. And usually this kind of weather like, totally puts me in sloth mode, but not today, okay, because we are talking about something that really fires me up. And it’s something that I love to do, both professionally and personally in my life. And that is an end of year reflection. So, as I mentioned in last week’s episode, I love this time of year, I’m sure you do to the end of the school year is so close for so many of you. And I just think this is such a valuable time in your life to do an assessment of the past year, don’t wait till the end of the summer, and you’re going back and you have back to school energy to try to reflect on the past year now is the time. And doing this kind of end of year. Reflection has been so helpful for me for my growth as a teacher, and also just as an individual. But I also feel like it almost serves as a way to give me closure at the end of the school year in almost like peace so that I can close the door in my classroom for the summer. Leave it close until I can return again after the floors have been waxed, and start fresh with a new year. And so we kind of started this Indivior reflection conversation last week in a really practical way, when I talked through how to audit the instructional resources you used this past school year, and just do like a really thorough assessment of them before closing the door on the year. So if you missed Episode 131, it is for sure worth going back and listening to it is incredibly actionable. And I also want to say here, if you are looking for wisdom for how to practically reflect upon the functionality of your physical teaching space, maybe you know for sure you’re going to be in the same room next year, maybe you just got told you’re moving rooms and you’re thinking through your new physical teaching space. If that’s the case, you need to do my classroom reset challenge, it is totally free. You can grab it at it’s not rocket science classroom.com/challenge. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. It’s a series of checklists for different places in your classroom, different physical spaces, and it walks you through exactly how to work through those spaces, really make sure you’re using them to maximum function. And then also cleaning them out. Like if you’re in a really disgusting or maybe not disgusting, it’s a strong word. Just like an overcrowded, potentially hoarder space, I found that a science teachers, probably because of her like lack of support and resources we get can kind of be hoarders, we keep all of the models and all the specimens and all of the tools just in case, we might use it one day. So I feel like we end up with these cabinets that are just full of things from the teachers, three or four before us that are even in a classroom space. So I have an episode two that supports that challenge episode 75. It’s from this time last year, it’s called the classroom clean out without the freak out. And so I feel like you’re feeling a little bit freaked out right now by your physical space. It’s a really good, like pep talk guide for doing the free classroom reset challenge. So be sure to check that out. Now, that’s all like the really practical manual labor things that I recommend for the end of the school year. It’s cleaning out your physical space, and really auditing your instructional resources. And so those are the practical things I encourage you to do. But that’s not what today’s episode is for. Today, we’re really going to be talking about how to do a personal reflection on this year. And I’m sharing six questions that I like to ask myself at different time markers in the year. So professionally, I like to do it at the end of the school year, and really answer these questions from a professional standpoint. But my husband and I also talk through these questions every year on each other’s birthdays, and like just kind of reflect on the past year of our lives in terms of our birth and talking through personally kind of our angle on these questions. But for the sake of this podcast, we’re going to be talking through these thinking about your school year and thinking of them through that professional lens. So let’s do this. 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 and 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 friends Let’s get to today’s episode.

All right, so I told you, I have six questions for you. And I’m gonna kind of go through these quickly. Because really, you just need the space to think of them on your own. You don’t need to know my answers for all of these things. And especially now that I’m not in the classroom full time, I’ve kind of moved to reflecting on these questions at the end of the calendar year, before I started a new year, because my quarter one, quarter two, quarter three, quarter four is now more of like when I paid taxes, as opposed to when the school year is, but for you, it’s going to be more on that school year calendar if you’re on a quarter schedule or whatever. So let’s talk through the six questions. First is I want you to ask yourself, What did I do? Well, this year, okay, we’re going to start positive. What are some things that you did well, this year? You know, maybe some think through some of the highlights, you know, maybe you started doing bell ringers for the first time. And that went really well. Maybe you started to cut back on grading? Maybe you started to treat your planning period differently. Maybe you flipped your classroom. Maybe you stopped assigning formal lab reports. I don’t know. And then it went well. But we’re focusing here on the things that went well. That’s the first question what went well this year? Or what did I do well, this year? And then the second question, is that the opposite of that? What did not go so well, this year? Or what did I not do? Well, this year, maybe it’s something new you try that kind of bombed? Maybe it’s something you’ve been doing ever since you were started teaching? And it’s just never been great, but you’re still doing it. Okay? Whether that’s stations that have not gone well, or the way you do bell ringers has not been great, or the way that you grade tests? Or maybe it’s something tech wise, like, maybe how you’re doing, you know, Google Form assessments is just not working anymore. I don’t know what that is. But you’re gonna ask yourself, What did I do? Well, what did I not do? Well, that’s one and two. Now the other thing I want you to take in consideration with question two, is almost like a sub question. But is, were there any unexpected life circumstances that impacted your control over these things that went not so well? Okay. So for instance, maybe your bellringers didn’t go well, okay. And there could be a lot of reasons for that. But that maybe has nothing to do with your personal life, then maybe one of the things that did not go so well this year is you just got so behind on grading, but it was because you now have a new baby, and you’re in where you used to stay late and grade papers for two hours. Now you’re rushing home as soon as the bell rings, so you can go to daycare and pick up your little one. Okay? There’s no like, right or wrong answers here. But I do think it is important to consider unexpected life, things that could have impacted how things went in your classroom, because our personal lives do impact our professional lives. Okay, we are poll people. So I want you to consider that too. And I want you to give yourself a lot of grace there. Because one of the things we talk about a lot on this podcast, when we do these kind of like personal reflective, like more, I call them my email episodes. But it’s really thinking like, what is the season of life that I’m in. And I’ve always told you all this so much like you can only do the best that you can within your current season of life in your current capacity. And your capacity is constantly going to be changing based on your current season of life. I don’t know about you, but each child that I’ve Lord willing been able to add my family has changed my capacity. Okay, it is I typically am a very high functioning high capacity person. And I’ve kind of learned over the years, I think I used to always be confused by other people couldn’t match my productivity and my energy. And God has really humbled me if I’m perfectly honest, and last few years to be like, literally every person is made different. And people just innately have higher or lower capacities. But then on top of that your season will humble you and it will change you. I know like I just in releasing, you know, when this podcast episode airs a few weeks before this, I finally released the chemistry exam pack that I I said years months ago, not years, a year and a half ago, months ago, that it would be done in January, and I didn’t get it done, you know, by May 1. Okay, that took way longer because unexpected life circumstance. We have never ever had as much sickness as we have had in our household than we did January, February, March of this year of 2024. Y’all not kidding, when we would make it three days in a row without someone being sick and someone needing to stay home from school. Like we celebrated. We got on a first name basis with our pharmacists, okay, because of how many times we had to go in for like an antibiotic. It was out of control. And I know some of you can really relate to that. And so just an example of like, there was something that did not go so well this year. You’re, and it’s not like you weren’t optimizing as best as you could or being as you know, efficient as you normally could. It’s like you literally had life circumstances that came up that prevented you. Like, I had so many days that I had kids home with me that I didn’t intend this year, and I couldn’t have predicted it. And so I want to put that sub question in there, just so that you will give yourself some grace here. And hopefully, these are temporary seasons that will not be forever seasons for you. So consider that as you’re considering what did not go so well, this year. Give yourself a lot of grace there. Okay. I’m doing it for myself. Every single time someone emailed this spring and said, like, hey, it says in the product description like this was supposed to be done by January, am I missing it somewhere? It’s like, No, you’re not missing it. I don’t know how to explain that. Like, I want to pour bleach all over my house, and then set it on fire because of how sick my kids have been. You know, but that was just the reality of the circumstance. So give yourself Grace there. I’m doing I’m preaching to the choir to myself, too. Okay. So what did I do? Well, this year, what did not go so well this year? Third question, what is one thing I want to do more of next school year? I love this question. What’s one thing I want to do more of this next school year, and this could be anything? It could be? I want to do more labs. It could be I want to do more, one on one time with students I want to build in more time for tutoring. I want to build in more time for lesson planning and coming up with instructional resources, because that really gives me life. You know, I don’t know what the answer is. I can’t answer these for you. But what’s one thing you want to do more of next school year? And then question for shocker is what’s one thing I want to do less of next school year? What’s one thing I want to do less of next school year? Maybe it’s caring more than your students care? And then you need to go back and listen to my episode about that a few weeks ago, Episode 123, what to do when you care more than your students. Okay, so maybe that’s what you want to do less of next year caring more than your students? Maybe you want you want to do less staying late. You know, I mean, possibilities are endless for this question. But one thing you want to do more of one thing you want to do less of? And then the last two questions. Number five, is there one thing I could do to improve my work life balance next year? And what would it be? Like think about what gets you most working overtime? Most working over your 40 hours of contract time? Are you spending way too much time grading? Are you spending so much time tutoring with kids, and maybe it’s like, I’m spending a lot of time tutoring, but that’s where I want to be, you know, like, I personally love tutoring kids that want extra help. So I’m willing to stay late to do that. But I hate grading and it feels like a time suck. I’m not willing to stay late and grade 1000 projects. So maybe one thing I could do to improve my work life balance next year, is create more rubrics, more structured rubrics that can make me grade faster, or assign less projects, or do mere more peer grading to eliminate some of that I don’t know. I’ll link in my show notes and episode two of how I cut my grading time in half. And maybe that’s something you need to think of here. And then number six, what’s one thing I could do now to serve future me next school year. One thing I could do right now to serve future me next school year, maybe it’s doing the classroom clean out that free challenge I mentioned at the top, maybe is doing the instructional resource audit and really going through and making sure that you’re changing out some of those resources that flop and getting prepped with great resources. Maybe it’s doing a course a little mini courses somewhere on classroom management. Maybe it’s doing a mini course on labs. Maybe it’s making your bell ringers all summer for next year, or investing in pre made bell ringers like my prime times so that you’re not having to write a bell ringer every single morning, which is always a stressor every single day before the school day starts coming up with your bell ringing questions. I don’t know what the answers are to these. But these are the questions I would think through. So let’s run them through one more time. Number one, what did I do well this year number two, what did not go so well this year? And give yourself Grace here and considering unexpected life circumstances that may have come up? Number three, what’s one thing I want to do more of next school year? Number four, what’s one thing I want to do less of next school year? Number five, is there one thing I could do to improve my work life balance next year? What would that be? And number six, what’s the one thing I could do now to serve future mean next school year? Make go into your filing cabinets, organizing your digital files, doing the classroom clean out, you know making a bunch of rubrics that you can use over and over again, writing your bellringers buying someone else’s bellringers purchasing and curriculums. You don’t have the lesson plan for new prep. I don’t know what the answer is. But that is a really good question to think through. And so I hope you do that. I hope you take the time to really think through these. I think it’s helpful to talk through these with a co worker who really gets it you can talk with a friend or partner but like I think he’s always really help professionally to talk to someone else who’s doing what you’re doing professionally. And again, like I mentioned, if you want more practical support in your interview reflection In episode 131 is for you about auditing your instructional resources. The classroom reset challenge is for you that it’s not rocket science classroom.com/challenge to clean out your space, the lab audit is for you that it’s not rocket science classroom.com/labs You know, there’s so many things that I have out there for you for free, that I hope you’ll take advantage of to help you because it’s kind of reflection and resetting is like my bread and butter. I love it so much. All right. So if you’re excited, and maybe if you’ve already started to reflect upon your year and audit your resources and clean out your classroom, would you leave a review today for

the podcast? Nothing makes me more excited than hearing from you guys in the reviews and in my DMs and how you’re listening to the podcast and putting it to action. I love it. And I mentioned a lot of links in this episodes if you want to have a clickable version of those go to isn’t rocket science classroom.com/episode 132 And that will have everything you need there for you. Alright, 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 really free teacher friend.


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