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Final Bell

Trey Reely | May 2018

    At the end of every school year, something I dread appears in my teachers’ lounge box at school – the school inventory. Whereas most teachers simply check a box on the inventory sheet for their computer (or maybe an overhead projector for someone really old-school), I have to strain my eyes at serial numbers worn by blood, sweat, and tears; decide whether to hold on to a duct-taped instrument about to give its last breath; and search high and low for a bashed bell-front baritone that seems to have vanished into thin air.
    If that isn’t bad enough, recent teacher assessments also have inventories on them under the guise of a reflection component. I am actually a reflective person, I just don’t like being told I have to reflect as I am crawling to the finish line. The best time to reflect is after the year is over during a nice walk in the neighborhood, or maybe even while sitting down with a yellow legal pad in my school office when no one else is around. 
    With that in mind, I suggest you wait until sometime early in the summer, find your preferred mode of relaxing, and think through some of the questions I’ve provided below. To give credit where credit is due, I borrowed the basic idea for this article from the classic self-help book Think and Grow Rich (1937 Unedited Edition) by Napoleon Hill. This one idea made it almost worth the read, even though it quickly became obvious I couldn’t think hard enough to grow rich.

Have I attained my goals?
    Did I enjoy the journey?
    What things went great that I want to continue?
    What things went wrong that need to be corrected?
    Did I try anything new? Should I keep doing it?
    Was I cooperative and helpful with colleagues and administrators?
    Is there something that I procrastinated on that I must no longer put off?
    Was I persistent enough in adverse circumstances?
    Did fear hinder my growth and success?
    Was there something frustrating or stressful that I can head off in the next school year before it becomes a problem again?
    Did I show open-mindedness? Did I truly think on matters brought to my attention and consider suggestions that were made?
    Did I seek out other opinions?
    Are there aspects of my personality that are hindering the success of the band program? Am I egotistical?
    Was my decision making sound and prompt?
    Did I show proper respect to everyone I came into contact with?
    If I had been a member of my band, would I have been inspired? Bored? Loved?
    Was I unfair to anyone?
    What word would best describe my attitude this year?
    How was my work/life balance? Did I give the attention to my family that they deserved?
    Did I challenge my students?
    Is there anyone I did not thank personally for something they did for the band?
    How did I handle my most problematic students?
    How can I be better organized next year?
    What one thing did I do to grow professionally?
    What is something I can do this summer to come back a better band director  next year?

    There is an old saying that you can teach for 30 years or teach the same year 30 times. Taking the time to reflect, keeping the great things going, and improving weaknesses will help you avoid the latter.