Semester Wrap-Up with Myself

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:

  1. Read my students’ informal exit evaluations (aural skills 1 form; form and analysis form).
  2. Let their responses percolate as I go through the binder, removing recyclable paper.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

Grading the Fundamentals
Personalized Goal Setting
Expanding Content (forthcoming separate post rather than updated post)

4 thoughts on “Semester Wrap-Up with Myself

  1. Your reasoning is more thoughtful than mine often is by the exhausting end of a semester, but I do the same thing, except it’s all electronic now (hmmm, doesn’t sound quite as satisfying)– but for a more prosaic reason– so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

    • where do you “keep” your electronic version? I have so many files and stuff that I’m worried I won’t see it when I need to see it. But I think keeping it electronically makes a lot of sense….

      • I just write it in bold, red letters at the top of my current syllabus, knowing that I’ll be using it next year as a template for the 2013 syllabus. Actually, I do the same after every assignment, test, and most class periods– I write what I want to change or what didn’t work (or how long things took or a misconception that popped up that I hadn’t known about) at the top of the relevant document, knowing that I’ll see it next year at that time… so next year when I open up the kidney class notes it’ll say “good sequence of questions, but have them answer the first two individually before voting on the answers as teams. Also, they get PCT and DCT confused so don’t use the acronyms until day 2.” Etc.

        • that’s awesome. I’m almost to the point in my classes where I reuse material. For the longest time, I’ve been scrapping much of my class every time. It’s been worth it, but I’m finally starting to like what I have enough to keep it for future semesters. I like the commenting IN the document. duh… especially since I hate keeping hard copies of everything anyways!

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