Teachers usually have a gut feeling about their lessons. (Which may swing between commiserating over ice cream and Netflix, or singing to the skies about your new status as an education expert!) What we don’t always do is sit down and identify why a lesson was a success—or bumpy ride.
But why self-assess? Because regular self-evaluation helps teachers identify roads to take next time and shows us how our teaching has improved throughout our careers. Plus, they’re private. Here are some techniques to use any time of year.
Teachers know that a lesson begins before anyone sets foot in the classroom. This is the planning stage; often time-consuming, particularly for new teachers or when teaching an advanced grammar point for the first time. Regular assessment of your planning will show you where you can tweak the process to prepare more efficiently and effectively.
- In general, how hard was it to plan this lesson?
- Did you feel confident about how the lesson would go?
- How difficult was it to find the resources and materials you needed? If it was time-consuming, why?
- Was your lesson plan easy to follow?
- How well were you able to adapt when unexpected changes of direction came up?
Goals direct your planning and the content of your lesson. Later, at a semester or academic year level, they orient this lesson as a part of the bigger picture. Without goals, lessons are wishy-washy—for teachers and students alike.
- Were your goals clear at the lesson’s start?
- Were they suitable for your students’ level?
- Were they realistic, given your allocated class time?
- Did all of your students understand and meet the goals?
Always remember that some students are more naturally confidence and willing than others. So call on different students and experiment with a variety of classroom techniques that allow more introverted students to participate.
- Were all students engaged and participating?
- Were they comfortable with your activity set ups?
- Which activity went very well/not so well/not as well as you expected?
Whether working from a coursebook, your own materials or materials from a variety of resources, it’s important to continually evaluate their quality and appropriateness. Ideal materials are designed to expose students to target language, while maintaining a rich, authentic experience. They also align with your goals for the lesson and for the semester as a whole. Sometimes, materials seem more appropriate “on paper” than in a living, breathing classroom situation.
- Did my chosen materials suit my class’s level, age and interests?
- Were they appropriate and relevant?
- Did you use all of them? If not, why?
- Did they spark participation?
- Would you use the same resources next time?
Whiteboards, interactive whiteboards, web-based activities, computers and TVs. We all know which we’re most comfortable using—and where we’d like to brand out. Enter: regular evaluation of your use of technology and different tools.
- What tools and technology did you use? Did their use support your goals?
- Did you have a back up plan in case of an unexpected event (e.g. a power outage)?
- Did the use of technology connect seamlessly to your lessons or feel clunky?
We know that evaluating your own teaching can feel very exposing. But we also know that the benefits of regular self-assessment (including more efficient planning, better materials, more effective, enjoyable lessons and super engaged students) are great. So don’t be shy. With regular practice, self-evaluations will feel normal—and your teaching will never have been better.