These days, evaluation can be a dirty word. Teachers cringe at the idea of monstrous preparation for ‘dog-and-pony-show’ lesson that makes you jump through all the required hoops all while praying that your precious students are on their best, most angelic behavior. But what about evaluation that is truly about evaluating the job you are doing as instructor? What if evaluation had nothing to do with paperwork and red tape, and instead was purely and truly about growth and getting better? Who is the one person that can review your teaching practices and watch you objectively with no biases and no agenda? YOU!
What separates the good teachers from the great teachers is their ability to practice careful reflection. They learn lessons about their craft each time they present a lesson and think about how they should adjust instruction next time. This is how we as practitioners become life-long learners.
A common sense approach to reflection involves simply thinking about things. Perhaps you reflect on the structure and pace of the lesson or why a lesson didn’t produce the outcomes you had hoped. Most of us have moments when we think about the “big picture” of our job and what effect we have on students, but real change comes when we look through a more focused lens at what instructional actions we take and how to adjust those actions moving forward.
When it comes to self-reflection:
Be Linked to Practice
Be About Learning
Be About Change and Development
Get out your phone and video your kids working in groups. They will think they are reality stars, but you can review the videos paying close attention to what kinds of questions they are asking. What kinds of comments are they making about the content? All of these little pieces of evidence can lead to minor instructional adjustments that can have major results in student thinking and practice.
Thomas Paine said, “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength in distress, and grows brave by reflection." Be brave, be confident, and be your own best evaluator!
Jaime and Derek