Make Time to Reflect This Semester
A Message from Lesley...
Congratulations! You’ve finished yet another school year.
I may not know you, but I’m proud of you. You’ve learned, grown, and achieved more this year than you did the previous year or the year before that. As an educator, I’m always thrilled to help my students celebrate their accomplishments, even if it marks the end of our working relationship.
The end of the the school year is crazy. You have finals, signing of yearbooks, goodbyes, and if you’re going to college, packing and moving. Reflecting on the previous semester or year is the last thing on your mind. After all, you have so much ahead of you to look forward to. But this is the best time to take a beat and consider all that you’ve accomplished. By the time things have settled down a month from now, the memories of the last few weeks and months of school will already have started to fade.
So take a moment, and it really only takes a moment, to reflect on your semester, month, or even your entire school career. In doing so, you will have a physical record of what happened and when things get tough (as you know they will) you can pull out your sheet to remind yourself of your superpowers, or at least what you do to stay on top of academics and your life. Let’s face it, when we are stressed or pressed for time, we don’t always do things at our best and that can be frustrating. Having a handy-dandy list of what works is helpful in those times.
Pick a place to record your thoughts such as a journal or a private blog) and find a comfortable and private spot to start brainstorming. I recommend dividing your reflections into three parts: 1. what really worked, 2. what's not working, and 3. what you want to change to try next year.
Start with the what’s working category. Brainstorm at least 5 (if not 10) things that you’ve done in the past semester that have contributed to your academic success, personal well being or personal growth. For example, one of the things that seems to be a game changer for my students is how much time they spend talking to professors or teachers. I’ve noticed that the more time they spend getting additional support, the more confident they are in class. It also give your teachers the opportunity to get to know you a bit more. Win-win. Don’t forget things that contribute to your well-being like “worked out 3-4 times every week” or “learned to meditate.” Also, write down some pretty obvious but clearly important achievements like “got all assignments in early” or “kept track of my school *and* personal life”. Write down everything that worked - from the simple to the more complicated - so when you get into a situation down the line makes you feel stuck, you’ll have a play book to work from.
The what’s not working category, depending on how your semester or year went, could be either a short or long list. Could be that you slept in too often and found yourself not getting everything done you wanted to. Or, maybes you didn’t take breaks from social media while studying, which made your work take 3x longer than it needed to. Maybe you didn’t do as well on tests as you’d have liked. Or, maybe you fell prey to that old foe, procrastination. Whatever you put on your list isn’t meant to make you feel bad. Instead, it’s an acknowledgement of what you might need to take a closer look at next year. It’s a way to keep yourself accountable to the person who matters most on your academic journey: you.
Finally, spend time thinking about what you’d like to do a little different next year. Maybe it’s going to office hours sooner, getting super organized for school, or going to bed an hour earlier. It’s okay to only have one thing that you want to do differently. Try to find something that you can try to do differently that will help make your life less stressful and more successful.
After you’re done jotting down your reflection, take a moment to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished in the last year. Allow yourself to rejoice in all you’ve done. It’s important to take these mental victory laps in life.
Congratulations! Have a wonderful summer vacation!
Your Academic Success Guru,