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Assessing Our Work As Teachers

January 15, 2014

As we prepare to give our students exams for their work this fall, it might be helpful to us as teachers to think about how we are assessing our work as teachers.  Here are some thoughts for all of us to consider:

  1. What questions should we ask ourselves about our teaching these first five months?
  2. How would we “grade” the responses?
  3. What’s the rubric against which we measure these responses?
  4. What changes have we made to our courses since September?  Why?  What are we now stressing based on how the classes have gone, or on our conversations with colleagues, or on our understanding of our students?

Over the years, I’ve collected many course evaluations. Here are some questions I’ve found that have helped me learn the most about my teaching and how much students are learning in my classes.  Feel free to use any if you have not asked your students for a course evaluation:

  • What did you learn in this course?
  • How did you learn it?
  • Have you improved in this course as a writer, thinker, reader, speaker?  Explain why or why not. If you feel that you have improved in any of these areas, explain what has made you improve, and how you know you’ve improved.
  • What is the most important thing you have learned so far in this course?
  • What areas of this course do you feel need more emphasis in the second semester?
  • What areas do you need to work on more intentionally as a student?
  • Think about specific aspects of the class that most helped you learn – or did not help you learn:  was there a specific moment when your understanding or learning was activated in some way?  Consider the following:
  • class discussions, journals, one on one oral exhibitions, small group exhibitions, teacher-student tutorials, written feedback on papers
  • What have been the most valuable and instructive aspects of this course?  From what sort of assignments did you learn the most?
  • Where have you made the most improvement in your work in this class?  Try to explain what has made you improve?
  • Identify one insight that you received from a classmate this fall in this class:
  • How has the teacher helped you learn this fall?
  • What was your “best” moment this fall?
  • What was your “low” moment this fall in English?
  • What are the strengths and the weaknesses of your teacher?
  • Has your teacher fairly assessed your ability?  Explain your answer:

There are other insightful questions we can ask, and please feel free to share them in the comments below.

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