Oren Jay Sofer

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

It’s that time of year again when the days grow long in the Northern hemisphere and students can hardly wait to get outside when the bell to rings. I remember that feeling of anticipation and restlessness well as I watched the analog clock on the classroom wall ticking its way to 2:46pm!

As educators, the end of the school year is a natural time to reflect on lessons learned and on our successes and challenges from the year. So as you gear up for the home stretch (or wind down if you’re already there!), I invite you to set aside some time to sit quietly and harvest any insights from your experiences.

Try the guided audio reflection and/or the instructions below.



Steps for Reflection

  1. Do whatever helps you transition to a more contemplative space: some light stretching, soothing music, even tidying your living space if that helps you feel more relaxed.
  2. Sit quietly, taking some time to quiet your body and mind. Anchor your attention in the present moment with something simple like the sensations of sitting, breathing, or hearing.
  3. As you begin to feel more present, cast your mind back over the year. What were some highlights? Are there any moments you feel particularly proud of? Let your thoughts roam a bit, keeping some connection with your body or breathing. Just observe what comes to mind. What did you accomplish that you can genuinely feel good about? Can you identify at least three things you appreciate?
  4. Noticing and taking pleasure in our achievements can feel unfamiliar, even challenging. Yet recognizing ways we’ve contributed or places that we’ve grown is an essential part of staying engaged in our work and preventing burnout. For each thing you identify, take a few moments to feel the pleasure of that. Open your heart and mind to receive the goodness of having worked hard, helped someone out, or stuck with a challenging situation.
  5. Next, consider any areas you’d like to do differently next year. Where would you like to grow or learn? How can you take better care of yourself? How might you serve students differently? Remember to bring some kindness and compassion to this area. We’re each just doing the best we can.
  6. Last, set some intentions. Are there ways you’d like to take these insights and apply them – over the summer, or next year? What are one or two concrete things you can do to help yourself remember these reflections and put them into practice? Are there any resources, relationships, or other ways you can find the support you need.

When you’re done, if you like, it can help to jot down a few notes highlighting what you discovered. It’s helpful to take joy in our accomplishments and note that, so that we feel motivated to continue working in that way. Similarly, having a few pointers to refer to at the end of summer before the next school year starts can be a great reminder to orient in the right direction.