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For many schools and universities in North America and Europe, the academic school year concludes in May and June, prior to summer break, and picks up again around September. For those in Africa and many parts of South Asia and Australia, they follow the Gregorian calendar and begin their new school year in January. Chinese schools follow the Lunar Calendar, which means their schedules can vary greatly from year to year, and in Japan, schools begin in April and progress from there.
No matter your school’s calendar, as an educator, when your academic year comes to a close, it is important to make space for reflection, organization, and preparation. And if this crucial time is spent productively, it can mean you’ll return the following academic term ready, with confidence and energy.
But what does that look like? How can educators set themselves and their students up for success for the new school year? Here are a few ways:
Create an online or in-person end-of-year survey and offer your students the chance to give you feedback. As with every assessment, offering different types of questions will elicit a wider variety of answers from your class. Open-ended questions that require commentary will give you a richer context around student responses, which in turn can allow for more thoughtful revisions to your curriculum. Sometimes, anonymous feedback can be more honest while other times, it can be beneficial to hold students accountable for their responses, especially if you have follow-up questions.
No matter how your student feedback survey is structured, make sure they have adequate time to give thoughtful, unhurried answers. Afterwards–and especially if you provide the assessment online– you can graph the responses, study the feedback, and analyze how to make the following school year even better.
The tradition of grabbing a broom, opening doors and windows, and sweeping out the old to make room for the new, has its place in traditions all over the world. In Iranian culture, entire families spend several days cleaning (or “shaking the house”) prior to the Persian New Year, and in Thailand, people recognize Songkran by taking to the streets for an enormous water fight, as a chance to “wipe away the buildup of the past year, both mentally and physically, in anticipation for the year to come.”
A curricular spring-cleaning can refresh your relationship with your lessons, weed out projects that are no longer relevant or helpful, and give you a clear perspective on how best to approach the upcoming term.
It is invaluable to establish a strong culture of academic integrity within your classroom and throughout your institution. Thinking about how you can improve your integrity practices, as well as establish new ones, can take place at the end of a term where you have the chance to strengthen your approach.
The learning success to come depends greatly on your preparation now. Whether you are bidding farewell to this set of students in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, take this time to reflect, review, and revise. Your future self and your future students will thank you.