Running is one of my favorite things to do. I’m not particularly good at it (my motto used to be “not fast, not last”), but it makes for a wonderful way to destress and get some much needed alone time all while prioritizing my fitness. I’ve run seven marathons and a handful of half marathons, and I genuinely enjoy the community and sense of accomplishment I feel while long distance running.
My major running goal this year is to complete two half marathons and a full marathon while completing training plans for each. And while, yes, a training plan is typically a prerequisite to run a race of that magnitude, I’ve developed a nasty habit of running long distances under- (and occasionally even un-) trained.
I’m about five weeks into my first training plan in preparation for the Charlottesville Half Marathon, and I’m right on track with my Nike Run Club app. Their training programs are free, customized (using an algorithm – isn’t computer science cool?!), and adjust as you progress through the program to make pace and distance suggestions.
Anytime you run with Nike Run Club, there’s an excited, nice voice that alerts you when you’re halfway done with the run you set out to do. The cheerful “Halfway Point!” serves several purposes, and I always look forward to it. Not only do I learn my pace up until that point, but it’s a reminder to reflect on the work done so far and to adjust if necessary to reach my goal.
For me, the “Halfway Point!” of the school year comes this week. As my classes are semester courses, I’ll be getting a whole new group of students and starting my courses from the beginning. Just like a run, the semester change is a great time to reflect on the first half of the school year, adjust as necessary, and ensure that the second half of the school year is even better than the first.
But you don’t need to teach a semester class to make adjustments. A fresh semester gives every educator the opportunity to reflect, identify, and adjust to finish the school year off strong.
Reflect. Once the grade book is closed, grab a cup of coffee and a notebook, and write down your wins and lessons learned from the past semester. What went exceptionally well? What did you try that didn’t go as planned? What new ideas did you mean to implement, but just fell to the back burner? Take a few minutes to brain dump whatever comes to mind for each of these categories.
Identify. After you have your initial list, spend a few minutes writing down the “why” behind each of your identified wins, lessons learned, and things you didn’t get to. If a lesson didn’t work out, could a small tweak make it shine? Did you leave a new tool in your “to do” list for the entire semester because you never made time to implement or because you need additional training to make it happen? Identifying the why is critical to choosing which areas you’ll take on for growth in the coming months.
Adjust. Finally, choose up to three items you identified to take action on. I like to take a highlighter to my reflection list. Once you have up to three lessons or new ideas selected, write down three small actions you could take this week to start making those changes a reality.
Finally — DO SOMETHING! Give yourself a deadline on those action steps you just listed, and start to make moves. If you take the time to reflect without actually using it to change your practice, then you’ve wasted valuable time… and as teachers, we know that time is one resource that is too precious to waste.