A teacher's job is not only to teach. Outside of class, teachers spend a lot of time considering the material that they want students to learn and drawing up lesson plans that will impart that knowledge while still engaging students. Teachers must regularly evaluate their own methods in order to keep their students participating and learning.
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Jeff Goodman of Appalachian State University's College of Education recommends filming your lesson to observe students' responses to your lesson plan. You cannot observe every student's behaviour or reaction during the lesson; a DVD of the session will provide you a broader perspective on the success of your lesson plan and its execution.
Review your written lesson plan. What were your objectives? How did you tailor your lesson plan to meet those objectives?
Watch the recording of your lesson, focusing on each particular activity one at a time. Start with your opening activity, and observe your students' behaviour. How did they react to the activity? What percentage of the class actively participated? Did the activity adequately draw on the material that your students were supposed to learn on the subject? Did parts of it stimulate student contribution? If not, what parts were unsuccessful?
Go through each section of your lesson plan and ask yourself the same questions. Goodman recommends making detailed notes on your performance throughout each section of your lesson plan.
Consider any parts of your lesson plan that may not have been successful. Why were they less successful?
Evaluate your own participation in your lesson plan. Did you actively guide the students through the lesson? Did you regularly stop to check that students were understanding the purpose of the activity?
A teaching portfolio drawn up at Middlebury College acknowledges the value of allowing students to learn through trial-and-error, with a teacher's guidance. Did you allow room for students to express personal opinions, while keeping personal opinions based in fact? Try asking students for anonymous evaluations of your teaching methods.
Implement the conclusions of your self-reflection session to formulate future lesson plans for greater success.
Tips and warnings
- Self-criticism is a healthy thing that will keep your progressing professionally. A lot of people are too proud or too scared to criticise themselves or to allow other people to criticise them.
- It's very hard for a teacher to tailor his or her lesson plan to every single student in a class, especially if that class is large. Class sizes vary greatly across the United States; if you have a larger class, accept that you cannot personally cater to every single student. If you have students with unique learning styles or needs, you may need to spend extra one-on-one time with that student after class.
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