Sounds kind of silly, but I have a little ritual for closing up my semester. I clean out my course binder of extra photocopies, remove stuff from previous semesters that I didn’t use this semester and can’t imagine using in future semester, write a course reflection, insert reflection into the front of the binder, and put away the binder.
Even though I’m exhausted, I think it’s important to do the course reflection NOW while the semester’s experience is still fresh. Here’s how I go about it:
- Read my students’ informal exit evaluations (aural skills 1 form; form and analysis form).
- Let their responses percolate as I go through the binder, removing recyclable paper.
- Open up a blank document, write a general statement about the course, and organize my reflection into parts. For aural skills 1, I reflected on each of my experiments (many of which were documented here–I will add my reflection to the bottom of that post and provide links at the end of this post), on activities that I thought were especially effective for learning, on activities that I thought were especially ineffective for learning, on changes I made after midterm evaluations, and on general themes that emerged in the final exams and exit evaluations. For Form and Analysis, I organized my reflections around the four course goals and the experiments I tried. For this upper division class, I also summarized the verbal class-wide discussion we had on the last day of class where we evaluated the class (while students wrote their evaluations for me and after they wrote and turned in their institutional evaluations). For both classes, I had a “random” category for loose ends.
- Print, staple, hole punch, and put in the front of the binder.
It’s difficult to overstate the value of opening this binder in a year of two –when I next teach that class– and finding this self-evaluation. It totally jump starts my thinking about the class and makes all the evaluations I had students do more worthwhile.
Updated Posts with reflections: