After the excitement of the semester winds down and we've submitted our final grades, we often find ourselves depleted and maybe even downright exhausted. And we absolutely should take time to relax, breathe, rest, and reconnect.
For me, part of that decompression means nourishing all parts of myself, including the part of me that is an educator. Here are five ways I refresh my teaching spirit after the semester ends:
Think about your "why." To help us (re)ground ourselves, we're can ask a simple question with no simple answer: why do I teach? As you answer this question, give yourself time and space to roam around your thoughts. Think about what excites you about teaching, what captures your interest, what keeps you in the classroom, what motivates you to continue to develop and improve.
Review your teaching philosophy. Reconnecting with our "why" can also help us to review (or write) our teaching philosophy. Our teaching philosophy expresses our vision for teaching and learning and identifies the way we manifest that vision in our classroom. Reviewing our philosophy can remind us of our core education and human values and motivate us to continue developing our teaching.
Do a self-evaluation. In the modern education system, educators are often deep in the details of academic life and that means we can miss the progress we've been making. Take an afternoon to do a self-evaluation of where you've been and where you are. Think about the new approaches you've tried, new techniques you're using, new materials you've created, and new technology you've learned. Keep a running list of these reflections each semester to track and acknowledge all of the good work you've been doing.
(Re)set goals. While it's critical to look back, refreshing is also about looking forward. Setting new goals for our teaching puts us back into the position of learners, growers, and doers. As you (re)set goals, focus on what's exciting to you. Have you heard about a new approach that captures your imagination? Do you have an idea about creating/refreshing an assignment? Do you want to learn a new technology tool? And when (re)making your teaching goals, don't forget to about yourself. Maybe a good new goal is to streamline your course by making it more evergreen. Maybe you want to work on boundaries.
Have a conversation. Peer teaching and learning is just as essential for educators as it is for our students. Invite another passionate educator to have a conversation about their teaching. Not only can these conversations inspire us, but they give us an opportunity to refresh another educator's teaching spirit. And maybe even consider making these conversations a regular part of your semester routine.
Like all parts of our identity, our teaching self needs refreshing, too. Finding ways to reconnect with the what, how, and why of our teaching selves can help us acknowledge our teaching journey thus far and motivate us to keep going.
Do you make refreshing your teaching spirit part of your end-of-semester routine? How do you refresh your teaching spirit? Any tips or techniques you'd like to share? Leave us a comment below!
Interested in more support for your teaching practice? Join us in the OLT Community of Practice where you'll meet educators from around the world who are sharing experiences, resources, and advice.