Do you consider yourself a reflective teacher? Learning and understanding how you can use self-reflection and evaluation in education to move your career and personal life forward to achieve your goals.
Self-reflection and evaluation are an important part of my daily routine. Trust me, it works.
Improved class performance, small ‘thank you’ notes from students and their parents, and the appreciation of your peers and supervisors – these are just some of the things that testify to you being a good teacher. However, to become an exceptional educator, you need to go the extra mile. You need to embrace and model two tools for your students: reflection and self-assessment. This process does coincide with the growth mindset concept that is very important in education and anyone’s life.
Understanding Self-Reflection and Evaluation in Teaching
As a reflective teacher, you know that ‘reflect’ means to ‘contemplate; to think seriously.’ However, reflection goes far beyond this meaning in an educational setting. It’s a critical self-regulation factor that motivates teachers to monitor their performance and evaluates their progress against specific criteria.
Through the self-evaluation stage that follows, they can recognize their strengths and identify weaknesses, which, in turn, allows them to formulate strategies for challenging situations. As this is an iterative procedure, teachers will soon begin to recognize improvement. Analyzing this further will enable them to choose more appropriate goals as well as develop reasonable plans.
Why You Should Reflect and Evaluate Your Work
It’s easy to become the victim of your ego when someone proposes that you reflect on your current process and evaluate it. After all, you are a capable instructor whom the school chose because of their capabilities, knowledge, and experience. However, proposing self-reflection and self-evaluation isn’t to undermine your skills or demean you. It’s an invitation to reap numerous benefits that will transport you to the ranks of a “rocking with the times” teacher. Here is an article from the University of Washington on self-reflection on teaching.
Self-reflection is one of the most efficient ways to acknowledge that your teaching strategies can be improved. However, instead of having others make snap judgments about your method without having the context to support it, it is you who collects and analyzes all data to ensure that your teaching strategies improve if necessary.
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
― John Dewey
There is truth to the trending topic of teachers teaching the value of failing intelligently, which is one of the top 10 education career trends for teachers in 2016
As for self-evaluation, this process allows you to step successfully into the role your students, their parents, and your superiors entrusted you to take care of with expertise. If you don’t take the time to evaluate whether or not your students understand what you impart, your effort and time will go to waste. This process is especially important if you have ‘at risk’ students who need more attention.
Another reason to evaluate yourself is enhancing your skills as an educator. As an expert on a subject, you understand what you’re trying to say. Your students are another story, though. By asking for their feedback, you’ll be able to discover problems in your teaching style and begin fixing them. However, don’t request feedback if you don’t plan on improving accordingly.
Not only will you offend the people you’ll be working with for the rest of the school year, but you’ll also end up teaching your students that reflection and self-evaluation are useless tools.
Opening up to self-evaluation will also help you close the gap between you and your students. They’ll discover that you too are a learner who has successes, failures, frustrations, and concerns. As a result, they’ll feel safe about sharing what they think. However, make sure to be patient while listening to your students’ queries and celebrate mistakes while emphasizing that they lead to opportunities for learning.
Finally, by combining both your reflections and the results of your self-assessment, you can get gather better data and opinions that you can use while strategizing with your supervisor. He or she will then guide you on the best methods to use and even share some valuable advice from their personal experience.
In addition to advancing your career through relevant information, touching base with your supervisor regularly will show your dedication to your students and job. Rest assured that your passion for reflective teaching and your students won’t go to waste, and you may receive a better salary package in the future.
The Process of Self-Reflection in Teaching
Once you decide whether you plan to reflect on a specific feature of your teaching or a particular problem in your classroom, you can begin collecting information on the feature or problem. From this information, you can get a clearer idea of what you’re up against and take necessary steps, such as the following.
A Journal – Having a self-reflective journal is probably the easiest way to keep track of what happened during your lesson. After class, jot down a few notes detailing your reactions, feelings, and any observations you made about your students. To ensure the consistency of your assessment, break down your journal into sections like lesson objective, classroom management, and materials.
Video Recording – A valuable method to facilitate self-reflection, video recording is probably the best as it gives you an unbiased view of how effective your lesson was from both a teacher and student perspective. While viewing the video footage later, you may even come across errant behavior that you didn’t catch while teaching.
Student Observation – Students love giving feedback, so provide them with the opportunity to share their opinions. Hand out a survey or questionnaire that allows them to express what they feel about your lesson. Remember to write the questions in a way that enables them to express their thoughts thoroughly.
If you think your students won’t fare well writing their thoughts, conduct focus-group interviews or have an outside person take over instead to ensure objectivity. Ask the questions you have in mind and make sure to probe the students to get more detailed information and clarification. However, only choose this path if your student-teacher relationship is strong and built on trust.
If you’d rather not be as direct, you can evaluate your technique and how well your students are learning by looking at their assignments and test results, provided that they’re well-designed to measure students’ learning achievements. You’re also welcome to conducting oral tests after each class, but you’ll need to make sure that everyone participates.
Peer Observation – Have a colleague observe your teaching. As the observation is more casual in nature, you’ll be able to teach naturally, and your observer will be able to provide insight into your instruction. Since your colleague is as busy as you are, create a questionnaire using questions like those below so they can fill it out as they observe.
Was the lesson too easy or too difficult for the students?
Did you teach to ensure students comprehended the information?
Did any issues arise in class?
During which parts of the lesson did the students seem most engaged?
Which parts didn’t seem as interesting?
Do you think that the materials used in class helped? Which ones were the most useful and which didn’t work in the lesson?
Do you have any suggestions for better materials I can use?
Were my lesson instructions clear?
Was I delivering the course material at a reasonable pace?
Did all the students participate in the activity?
How effective was the lesson overall? Do you have suggestions on how I can improve to encourage more involvement or increase learning?
How well do you think I managed to handle problems during instruction?
Do you think I was perceptive and sensitive to my students’ needs?
How were my attitude and delivery overall?
After collecting this information, you should begin analyzing it. First, look for recurring patterns. Did your camera record something that kept happening several times during your class? Are several students pointing out the same issue in their feedback forms? Jot down areas that need change and start looking for solutions.
Two excellent sources you should explore are:
Your Colleagues – Peers will offer valuable advice, especially since they too may have faced the same issue. Even if they didn’t, they’d provide you with a list of tips on how to do things differently.
The Web – You can use the Internet (capitalized, I think it’s a proper noun) to locate resources explaining and solving the problems you’re facing. You can also use the World Wide Web to find other teachers on blogs and social networks. By interacting with them, you’ll be able to ask questions and discover interesting answers.
Remember that the goal of all of this is for you to improve the way you teach. Therefore, make sure to implement any changes to your technique or delivery before your next
How to Effectively Plan Your Self-Evaluation
Merely subjecting yourself, teaching strategies, and instructional techniques for your critical evaluation isn’t enough. After all, you’ll only come up with a checklist that allows you to focus ideas instead of formal structure. For the latter, you need self-evaluation. This more precise method requires more planning since it can help you improve the educational experiences you provide while highlighting the education you’ll need to develop your capabilities and teach well.
To plan for your self-evaluation, use the following five steps.
Define the Context of What You Will Teach
Describe the objectives of the lesson or course, detailing information about the purpose of the assessment and intended uses.
Identify the Stakeholders
Mention those involved (e.g. students, department, instructors, etc.) and list their needs. Recognizing this will allow the assessment process to grow more focused, maximizing the benefits of this procedure.
Establish Central Questions
Determine the purpose of the evaluation by devising central questions. These questions will help you determine how the assessment should be conducted.
Mention How You Intend to Use the Assessment Results
Determine how you will use the results for each of your central questions. Remember to ensure that users relate directly to the assessment’s purpose.
Create an Assessment Plan
In this step, you’ll create a plan which includes an overview of how the research will be implemented to reach the objective.
With a plan in hand, you can then begin your analysis through paper and pencil classroom assessments, document analysis (for syllabi, exams, etc.), observation, surveys, and even product analysis (examining portfolios or objects designed to demonstrate learning).
The Bottom Line to Advancing Your Career
Self-reflection and self-evaluation are a necessity for any teacher who wants to become a capable educator and efficiently advance her career. They are also necessary tools if you value your students and want to share your knowledge effectively with them. However, you can only enjoy their benefits by practicing them regularly and acting on their outcomes. So start assessing your teaching skills before your next class so that you can join the ranks of great all-star educators.
If you use this incredibly helpful strategy, you should include your experience and success implementing self-evaluation and reflection when writing your resume and cover letter.
While you are on the blog you can read 10 resume writing tips for teachers.
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