The final moments of any professional development activity or school community can be among the most memorable of the year. We like final discussions and reflections to feel authentic and natural. We’re not big fans of passing out sheets of toilet paper or rationing M&M’s or distributing wiki sticks so colleagues can meter out their words. Instead, we find all most teachers need is a quiet place away from the bustle of the end of the year, a bit of food and drink, and some sort of simple catalyst to think through and chat about what they will carry away from the year. Here are some easy, natural prompts to use to begin those final discussions.
If you’ve been reading a book or books in a study group all year, have everyone bring in just one quote they would identify as their favorite. Do a “read-around,” with each person reading their quote aloud. Some groups prefer to pause and discuss the quote, but we often like just filling the air with these random quotes, to show how powerfully these “distant teachers” have influenced our learning community this year.
Use the questions below as writing prompts, and have everyone write silently to answer them. After 5-10 minutes, discuss the questions as a group. Make sure you discuss a timeline for those next steps, if they involve reconvening the group or any work over the summer to prepare for the fall.
- What is the most important thing you learned this year in the study group?
- What issues or topics came up in the group that you’d like to explore further?
- What support would you need for that further exploration?
A Note to Myself
Have everyone write silently for 10 minutes, using the following prompt:
Describe yourself as a learner going into the summer months. Be candid—these words are only for your eyes. Are you engaged, exhilarated, exhausted? What’s the most important thing you learned about students and literacy this year? What do you plan to do this summer to renew yourself as a reader, writer, and teacher?
Distribute envelopes after the writing is completed, and have each person put their letter in an envelope, write their name on it, seal it, and give it back to you. Put the envelopes in a safe place!
Begin the first study group meeting in late summer or early fall by having everyone open their letter, reread it silently, and then talk as a group about where they are now in their teaching, learning, and energy level.