How Should Teachers Analyze Their Work?
It is critical and necessary, that as purveyors of educational content, a teacher ensures they undertake periodic analysis of their methods, rationale, and motivations for the job. Periodic self-analysis is important, as it can be one defining factor in what separates a âgoodâ from a âgreatâ teacher. In my experience as a teacher, I have often used a teaching log to note my findings and experiences in the classroom. Brookfield (1995) defines a teaching log âas a weekly record of the events in a teacherâs life that have impressed themselves most vividly on his or her consciousnessâ(p.72). In this paper, I present four main ideas, based on experience, in favor of a critical self-analytical method and the use of a teacherâs log to enhance the teaching experience. These ideas derive from my time delivering formal and informal teaching lessons to various audiences.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nicola C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The first point for a self-analytical thought-based approach to teaching is that this approach has allowed me to see teaching as a multidimensional activity. As teachers, we are not only seen as facilitators to learning but must also assume the role of counselors, motivators, and mentors in the classroom. This is particularly true about my experience in the classroom where I have been faced with making decisions every day about the welfare of students left in my care. Decisions such as what to do if a student is not feeling well, or am I leaving a child who struggles to grasp a concept behind, are a few that a teacher makes every day. Using the self-critical approach, I always try to analyze after each class if I have delivered and fulfilled on this multidimensional need my students require.
Secondly, one of the most fundamental things that I have learned using this approach is how it assists my use of instructional planning. Kellough and Kellough (2003), provide a rationale for planning stating that âeffective teaching does not happen, it is produced through the thoughtful planning of each phase of the learning processâ(pg.120). I concur with this argument because effective teachers do not step into the classroom and âwing itâ, careful planning needs to be done before the instruction is delivered. It is to this end that I constantly revise my subject material to ensure I cover the requirements on the syllabus. Additionally, I try to remain aware of the needs of my students, asking myself; am I delivering on my curricula, or is there more I can do to extract greater meaning from a lesson for my students? Proper instructional planning, therefore, must be followed by constant evaluation of the subject matter and alignment with the needs of the students and the curricula in question, another method of self-analysis.
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Another important aspect of using a self-analysis method is engaging in autobiographical or reflective writing. Reflective writing described as âbehavior, which involves active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or practice in light of the grounds that support itâ (C.Canning,1991,pg.18-21). I have found that engagement in this practice has been beneficial in that I am able to figure out which teaching method works in the classroom in order to enhance the learning capacity of my students. Additionally, this process has helped me to grow as a professional. By writing about the events, which occur during the lesson, I am able to note any problems that occurred and work to find solutions through research or requesting external help after the lesson concludes. Keeping a teaching log is invaluable in this regard- allowing me to evaluate and grow from each teaching session.
Finally, I have used a self-analytical approach in teaching, which has helped with the development of my classroom management skills. At the beginning of any new teaching experience, there are things that I have had to adjust to when delivering my content. Things such as the content to be delivered, the base knowledge of my pupils and the platform or place of delivery, are all things that one has to adjust to when starting out. I have found that being critical and engaging in self-analysis is effective in making this adjustment period smoother in many instances. To create an optimal learning environment, teachers need a repertoire of strategies for establishing rules and procedures, organizing groups, monitoring and pacing classroom activities.
Teaching can be a highly rewarding experience if proper thought and care are given to instructional delivery and through the use of a critical self-analysis approach. As a teacher, I view myself as an advocate for change in the classroom. I am not only an instructor but also a mentor, counselor, and knowledge-steward for my pupils, encouraging them to grasp aspects of the lesson and add their own âpersonal touchesâ to their learning experiences. Through daily participation in self-analysis, ongoing personal development and reflection I can make necessary adjustments where needed- helping to elevate my teaching from âgoodâ to âgreatâ.
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