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How Do You Measure a Year?

By Julie Ballew on May 28, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

I still can’t believe it, but the school year is rapidly coming to a close! At this time of year, it’s easy to get a bit lost in my never-ending to-do list and the piles on my desk that seem to grow taller every day. Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed by all there is to do in the short time left, it helps me to step back, take a deep breath, and spend some time reflecting on the year I’ve had. Every year, I feel like I don’t really have time for deep breaths or reflecting, but when I take the time, every year I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned.

I probably spend more time at school than I do anywhere else, so my “What I’ve Learned” list is long — and I’m sure this is true for every educator! I know that I can’t collect data for every kind of learning I’ve achieved, so what do I want to hold on to the most? I decided I’d narrow my list down to five things. Whether I learned these lessons for the first time this year or just finally got the lesson after the 100th chance to learn it, I definitely want to remember them!

This Year, I Learned…

  • When I’m faced with a difficult decision, I should always choose the kindest option. Kindness never leads me to make choices I regret.
  • That everyone — students and teachers alike — has a story to share. Sometimes it will make you laugh, and sometimes it will break your heart, but it will almost always affect the way you work with them.
  • That no test can measure a student’s ability to make friends, show empathy, or use good judgment, but this doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be explicitly taught how to do those things.
  • That of all the academic concepts we aim to teach children, my priority will always be to make them fall in love with thinking and learning. If they love to learn, the content knowledge comes easily!
  • That we can’t do our jobs well if we always sacrifice our own needs. Flight attendants always remind us to put on our own oxygen masks before assisting children or others. This is so hard for teachers, but we have to ensure that we can give our best selves to our kids.

This year, I also asked several teachers and students to reflect with me and think about all that they’ve learned this year. Certainly, their lists were long, but I asked them to choose just one thing that I could share with you.

This year I learned...

This year, I learned the importance of being positive, patient, and persistent.

   This year I learned...

This year, I learned that no intervention is right for every student. It's important to get to know the student and make adjustments as needed.

This year I learned...

This year, I learned the importance of communicating and working as a team with administration, other teachers, and parents. The teaching world is a much better place to be when everyone is doing their part!

This year I learned...

This year, I learned people can be a great resource. If you don't know something, ask! People are knowledgeable and helpful, and they want to share!

This year I learned...

This year, I learned to stress less because the kids ARE learning!

This year I learned...

This year, I learned that 40 years of teaching goes by very quickly...don't waste it.

This year I learned...

This year, I learned "when given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind." (From Wonder by R.J. Palacio)

This year I learned...

This year, I learned, good or bad, the attitude and expectations I project... reflect.

This year I learned...

This year, I learned that hidden talents can appear when you least expect it. Treasure those moments — they are priceless!

This year I learned...

This year, I learned that a smile goes a long way and says a million words.

This year I learned...

This year, I learned about inferences. An inference has to have text evidence and schema to make it.

This year I learned...

This year, I learned more about book reviews, like how you shouldn't give away the ending!

This year I learned...

This year, I learned how to make my handwriting better. Cursive was really challenging, but now it's easier for me to do it.

This year I learned...

This year, I learned how to do fractions. They're not so hard anymore!


Download a printable "This Year, I Learned…" form like the one pictured. Your students can complete it, and a photo of them holding it will make a simple but memorable end-of-year gift.

I hope that you’ll find time in your very busy end-of-year calendars to do a little reflecting. What do you want to hold on to as you enter the summer break?

Comments (8)

Keep up the good work.

Hi Julie! I was trying to find an email where I could contact you but I do not see one available. Anyway, I have an interview next week as a literacy coach! I have been hoping for a position such as this for years, but I have been home with my girls for the past 4 years, so I am super nervous and surprised I even got a call to interview! That being said, I have been tutoring independently and have worked for several agencies while I have been home, but I have been out of the public school loop now for a while. I would very much appreciate if you could email me any suggestions you would have, what questions do you believe I will be asked, and anything else you could suggest. I am in NY, I obviously will be reviewing common core standards, but I am having trouble finding anything about their reading program online. Thanks so much for your help!! Rwiplush@aol.com

Hi Rebecca,

I'm so sorry I just saw this! I hope it went well! If you still need help, my email is jballew84@gmail.com.

I really enjoyed reading all of the reflections. I think one of the hardest things for us to do as people/teachers is to reflect positively rather than negatively. It's also important for us to use those reflections to help guide ourselves as teachers in the coming year, not just to reflect, but to act upon those reflections and change what's not working and improve what is working well.

Kate, I couldn't agree more! Reflection is only worthwhile if we allow it to change us. Thanks for reading! :)

Nice blog!

Thanks! :)

I agree! Really great blog posts here, keep up the good work!

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