I love this point in my year. Annual reviews are over. I don’t know why they still cause me so much angst. I have been going to them for 15 years!!! And I have never had one that was terrible or mentally scarring. This has been another great year….smooth sailing. Which makes me think am I a total nutter?! Do you stress out before a big meeting?
Every year I try to think about how I can make my experience better. When I first started I would write out talking points to help me , especially helpful when I started to feel the dry mouth setting in. I understand how important these meetings are. We are essentially forecasting the next year for a student. This is kind of huge. I always want to make sure I say it all without generating a novel. I want to be fair and clear, so now I really focus on a few statements from each plep and my relationship with my student.
I also love to hear and understand my parents or families. I try to remember this is their baby…5 years old or 18 years old. No matter what the situation is, it is their child and I am here to serve them. I have developed different forms over the years to glean feedback from them. I think I have finally made something that is simple and eye catching. I wanted it to stand out for the parents or teachers. So many times I have sent items home that “get lost” or misplaced because people are unsure. This new handout is not hard to miss.
How much is too much. I have seen IEPs that are pages and pages. I never want to be that teacher that makes it overwhelming for parents or teachers, but I also don’t want to be so brief, my student isn’t presented in the best way possible. When I was a first or second year teacher I think I was either very basic in my statements or to wordy. Finding the balance comes with time and practice.
I personally do not enjoy data, I do not enjoy reading data I have generated or data other therapists and teachers collect. I understand it is necessary, but I feel there is more to a student’s year than data. The highlights of my student’s year have become my talking points at a meeting. Everyone involved in the process can read my data at a later date.
I make sure I write in all three major areas and try to not repeat myself. Which I find can be a struggle.
I find that I have “go to” goals I like. Ones I find semi universal and attainable. Sometimes I think I like a goal that I feel I can really do, especially when I see a student at a lower weekly frequency. I tweak my “go to” goals for each student…obviously. When I was younger I struggled more. I think with time and experience it becomes easier and easier, but I think I need to be aware if I am sinking into the deep hole of teacher burn out….you know -that slippery slope of taking the boring and easy way out. I am kinda scared that one step down that rabbit hole and this Alice will never leave wonderland…..I’ll become this dull and robotic teacher.
So, my goal for myself is to keep it spicy, but realistic.
I typically try to think of all of the things I need to have and do a couple of days before.
- Cancel students- if there is a time conflict
- Copy notes
- Highlight my sections of focus
- Student work samples (if I need to support my recommendations)
- Copy of draft
- A pen and highlighter
I have a better routine than I did years ago. You might think it odd to check list a pen, but it is never good to need one. No Anastasia Steel moments here.
When it is my turn to share I always try to limit myself. I have a tendency to ramble…or derail, so I try to be mindful of this awful habit. Peoples time is valuable. I have gotten much better at eye contact. This is a skill I teach my students, but a life skill I am constantly working on with adults. I focus on the parents mostly. They are all so wonderful and that’s really why I am there…for their child. I find this to be a sense of calm for me. Administrators still make me a wee bit nervous.
I always like to gather all my drafts. And have a look at them one more time before I place them in my students permanent files. I find I need to wrap my head around where they are going for the next year. I know what I have written, but I like to reread everything. I do not have access to the files over the summer, so I like to have mental or physical notes that I can refer to over the summer months. People think teachers are off over the summer, but not really. I think about my upcoming year, new ideas, new materials and new resources I can generate for a fresh and fabulous year.
What do you work on over the summer? How do you prepare for September? Drop me a line! I would love to have a conversation.