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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Measuring Success

How do you know you're a good teacher? How do you know you are successful in the classroom? Test scores, the kids are behaved, parents are satisfied, a strong evaluation from the principal?

It's a good question, one that I think educators begin to ask themselves as they gain years of experience in the classroom. Without defining success, it's easy as a teacher to get discouraged, to work hard but not know whether you have arrived.

Recently, I was talking with a group of educators, and they asked me about my philosophy of teaching. I thought about it and replied "You know, my test scores were pretty high this year, but I think you have to go way beyond that when measuring your success as an educator."

I went on to explain that I have learned to evaluatemyself in a number of areas, which will be the contentof this blog. By expanding your definition of success, you not only do you give yourself a clear target but also position yourself to meet the needs of the whole child, his or her parents, and the community at large.

Each year, I evaluatemyself in the following areas:


Do your students wake up in the morning wanting to come to school? Do they enjoy being in your classroom? Do they talk about class, and the lessons taught, when they get home? If students love coming to your classroom (and learning is happening), then I think you are on the right track.


While you will never please all parents, a good measure of success is whether other adults want their kids to be in your classroom. One of the best evaluations of a teacher I ever heard was this simplequestion: ask yourself:wouldI wantmy child to be in this teacher's classroom? If you have a child of your own, ask yourself would you feel good about them being in your classroom?


What skills are your students learning that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives? When parents tell me that their children, after being in my classroom, are planning more for college, saving money, treating others with more kindness, studying more for tests, thinking more about the community and their environment, then I know I am heading inthe rightdirection.


Have you improved this year as a teacher? Have you refined your skills, your philosophy, your methods? What new projects or lessons have you tried? I think each year you should set a goal to become a better teacher than the previous school year. If you keep improving, then you are successful in your career.


Yes, if you want to keep your job in this era of test score madness, you have to develop the ability to raise test scores and get results. It isa teacher's job to teach certain material, and test scores are one way of measuring how well you have done that. Depending on where you work, you will also be evaluated formally by your administrators, and you need to perform well. I purposelylisted these areas last in my blog because, although they are a part of our profession, I donot believe they always measure true success for teachers. To truly make a lasting impact,I think teachers need to have a greater vision and measure themselves using additional criteria.

Success, and its definition, can be elusive for educators. Everyone has their own idea of what makes a teacher effective. However, I believe it is important as teachers to reflect on the question and come up with our own definition. Please share your definition of success at the Innovative Teaching group athttp://community.educationworld.comcontent/measuring-success-0?gid=NTEyMQ==

Have a blessed day,