A Principal's Guide to Leading an End-of-the-Year Reflection

by Louise LeBron, M.S., and Lee Anne Sulzberger, M.Ed.

As the end of the school year approaches, it is time to reflect upon the current year and to begin planning for the next. York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, and Montie (2001) note that "the ultimate goal of schoolwide reflective practice is continuous improvement of practice in order to increase student learning," (p.123). The questions suggested below by Moody, Russo, and Casey (2005) can guide an end-of-year discussion with either an entire staff or a school improvement planning team.

As a faculty, do we share a clear understanding of our action plan and its implementation?
  • Has the action plan been clearly communicated and do we have a shared understanding of how it will be incorporated into the work of the school?

  • Have team structures been created for teacher support and accountability?

As a faculty, do we feel supported in our efforts to change instructional practice?
  • Is there a systematic classroom observation protocol that includes a coaching focus, feedback, and reflection?

  • Are our teaching practices consistent to ensure that all students achieve their instructional goals?

  • Does our professional development plan meet the needs of our teachers?

Are we focused on student achievement?
  • Are there ongoing conversations about learning outcomes?

  • Are we analyzing data in structured conversations to monitor the impact of the changes in our instructional practice?

What will our next steps be?
  • Do we celebrate our accomplishments regularly?

  • How shall we revise action plan goals and objectives based on data analysis to foster student and staff success?

  • How do we reflect on barriers that hinder us from reaching our goals? (Friend & Cook, 2007)

York-Barr and colleagues (2001) note that the course of continuous school improvement is not as well defined as previously thought. The influences on student learning, both internal and external, make a one-size-fits-all improvement process ineffective and nonresponsive. However, reflective practice, guided by the principles of complex change, offers teachers and administrators a structure for responding to the influences on student learning, the ultimate goal.


Friend, M., & Cook, L. (2007). Interactions: Collaboration skills for school professionals (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.

Moody, L., Russo, M., & Casey, J. S. (2005). Examining instruction. In K. P. Boudett, E. A. City, & R. J. Murnane (Eds.), Datawise: A step-by-step guide to using assessment results to improve teaching and learning (pp. 155 -175). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

York-Barr, J., Sommers, W. A., Ghere, G., & Montie, J. (2001). Reflective practice to improve schools: An action guide for educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Date: May/June 2007