Reflecting on and recognizing accomplishments

As we say goodbye to 2021, it’s important to celebrate all that you have achieved this past year, especially considering these unprecedented times. School closures, masks, teaching from home, school reopenings…every educator has had to adjust (and then readjust) to a lot. But, here we are — approaching a new year and it’s time to recognize the wins.

At Along, we believe that self-reflection is a powerful tool for acknowledging achievements and sharing the experience with your students. Take a look below at how Along can help you and your community honor your journey over the past year.

Finding the wins

Celebrating your own accomplishments is often easier said than done. Busy schedules and hefty workloads can cause us to miss moments and goals reached. From creating hybrid-learning lesson plans to strengthening students’ morale, the past year has truly pushed educators to be more resilient, creative, and flexible than ever before. It’s no wonder it’s difficult to remember specifics!

So, if you’re having trouble pinpointing your wins, we have three activities to jog your memory.

1) Reminisce with colleagues

Whether it’s during a lunch break or over coffee, connect with other educators about their experiences and create an opportunity for group reflection. Hearing how colleagues overcame challenges will help you remember how you created your own out-of-the-box solutions. Group reflection also allows others to highlight your moments of accomplishment. It’s a give-and-take that everyone benefits from. Recognizing your peers and receiving recognition is an incredible way to remember and celebrate your victories.

2) Write in a journal

Journaling is invaluable when it comes to tapping into experiences and thoughts. As Joan Didion once famously said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” By listing out small and large accomplishments, you’ll discover a greater appreciation for the various skills you’ve gained and strengthened. If you’re new to journaling and not sure how to start, you can give yourself a prompt to write to. We like this article from PsychCentral for finding prompts and getting the pen moving.

3) Connect with students

Ask your students about their own 2021 achievements with Along. Whether it’s gaining more confidence in reading, deepening friendships, or even just getting through the year, hearing your students honor their victories will inspire you to celebrate your own. We like the reflection questions below to get the conversation going — or you can create your own that are tailored to an experience from your classroom.

  • What’s a goal you recently accomplished? What helped you stay on track?
  • When was a time (or two) you felt proud of something you did? Why did this make you feel proud?
  • What’s something in your life, big or small, that you’re proud of? Why are you proud of it?

Share your wins

We bet that when you connect with students about accomplishments, everyone will walk away inspired. That’s because sharing an achievement usually means acknowledging that you weren’t sure that you could do it. When you check in through Along, try your best to be honest and set the example that overcoming doubt is perhaps one of the greatest wins of all. Plus, by sharing what you’re most proud of, you’ll show students that it’s okay to give yourself a pat on the back. It will encourage them to use self-reflection as a tool to recognize strengths and build their self-esteem. 

And you don’t need to limit the conversation to check-ins. We offer two classroom activities that focus on growth and goals. Ask your students to make a strengths chain by coloring cut-outs of their different strengths and linking them together. Or, you can celebrate your students’ growth and development by writing your class a letter highlighting the ways that you’ve seen them mature. You’ll then invite students to brainstorm other moments of growth that they’ve noticed throughout the year. 

In addition to building confidence, celebrating accomplishments creates a positive environment in the classroom — where students can see one another’s strengths and achievements. It also gives students an opportunity to recognize that reaching a goal often requires more than one person. Everyone is in it together and everyone can feel pride in shared victories. Not to mention, it’s just a great way to lift your students’ spirits before they leave for winter break.

A huge thank you

Being a teacher during a pandemic is no easy feat. However, we’ve witnessed educators go above and beyond to show up for students day in and day out. Our entire Along team wants to extend our deep appreciation and gratitude for everything you’ve done and for allowing us to be part of the ride.