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Four Simple Ways to Conduct a Self-Evaluation

teacher self evaluation

This morning, I looked out my window at the backyard and was shocked to see daffodil stems peeping through the dirt. Whenever March arrives, I realize with a jolt that the second half of the school year is at the midway point. This year, that milestone is particularly poignant. As we see the light at the end of this truly grueling year’s tunnel, now is a good time to take stock of our own teaching performance. Unlike the evaluations that school leaders conduct, or the feedback students give us, the process of self-reflection has an honesty and rawness that allows us to really think about what is working in our practice that we want to maintain or enhance, and what could use some improvement. The questions below provide a way to think about what our instruction should look like next year so that, when this last quarter of the year ends, we can move into summer with a stronger sense of where to go.

Questions for Building Relationships and Community:

The questions below address our commitment to creating safe, positive classroom environments that encourage student agency and academic risk-taking. If students do not feel comfortable in our classrooms, they will not be able to focus on their learning and stretch beyond what they already know.

  • Do I foster a safe learning environment where students feel comfortable taking academic risks?
  • Am I committed to the belief that all students can learn, and do my actions reflect my beliefs?
  • Are my expectations clear? Do I communicate high expectations to students?
  • Do I treat my students with respect and courtesy?
  • Does my classroom allow for the development of positive relationships from student to student?

Questions for Management, Structures and Routines:

For every classroom to run smoothly, strong structures and routines must be in place to help students focus on learning. These questions address our efficacy with classroom management.

  • Are my lessons always well-prepared and organized with instructional materials and resources readily available?
  • Do I modify or differentiate resources based on student need?
  • Are my calling practices equitable so that all students have an opportunity to share their learning? How do I hold myself accountable for making sure this happens?
  • When I use behavior management strategies, do I match the appropriate strategy to each child and/or situation?
  • Are my interactions with students productive (i.e., helpful and supportive)?

Questions for Content Knowledge and Application:

How well do we know what we teach, and even more important, are we able to clearly teach that content to students? The questions in this section address our ability to not just know our stuff, but to make sure that students know it (and, we hope, enjoy it) as well as we do.

  • When class begins, do I clearly frame the learning and provide a clear content objective?
  • Do I provide an agenda that aligns with the learning goals for the day?
  • Throughout the lesson, do I conduct continuous checks for understanding?
  • Are there opportunities for students to engage in academic discourse so that their voices can be heard?
  • Do I summarize the learning at the close of each lesson?

Questions for Assessment:

We spend a lot of time teaching, but how do we know students are benefitting from the class? Assessments are how we determine what students know and what they still need to work on. The following questions help us to gauge whether we are giving students enough opportunity to demonstrate their learning.

  • Do I use a wide range of both formal and informal assessments to determine student progress?
  • Do I assess students before teaching a concept (i.e., pre-assessment) and then again after instruction (i.e., post-assessment)?
  • When I assign work, do I post the criteria for success on the assignment so that students understand the expectations?
  • Do I give students ample opportunity to demonstrate their learning mastery? Am I flexible about how that occurs?
  • When students are confused, do I match instructional strategies that might unscramble that confusion to the situation?

While these questions are a good place to start, the answers are really what help us make progress toward becoming ever-better teachers. The most important thing we can do is be honest with ourselves, both in terms of where our successes lie and where we struggle. When we are aware of what we do well, we can enhance those victories and build upon what has worked for us in the past. With struggles, we can work with colleagues, do some self-exploration, or attend professional development sessions to build our capacities. Whatever we choose to focus upon, questions like the ones above focus our work.

With summer approaching after a particularly difficult year, now is the time to take stock of what we might want to work on when students are no longer in front of us. That way, when the days are longer and sunnier, we will have this self-evaluation to turn to as a reminder of our goals for the next (and we hope, a much smoother) school year.

Written by Miriam Plotinsky, Education World Contributing Writer

Miriam is a Learning and Achievement Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where she has worked for nearly 20 years as an English teacher, staff developer and department chair. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, and recently earned her certification in Education Administration and Supervision. She can be followed on Twitter: @MirPloMCPS

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