During one of my classes, I compiled a toolkit of useful tips and strategies. Over the next few articles, I’ll share a few with you.
A teacher portfolio is a collection of lessons, ideas, and evidence of results. This can be a good way to assess practice. (Nilson, 2010; Davis, 2009). Although Nilson recommends keeping a portfolio as a way to prove my worth, I see it as a way to guide reflection. In the past, when I have had to troubleshoot a complex problem in class, I have found clues by reflecting on my own behaviors. Collecting the information in a very checklist fashion does not provide ground for reflection. Spending more time and thought on the contents going into the portfolio can show me a great deal about my teaching practice.
The current generation is enamored of technology. When I was teaching children, I found that I could get them to do something they would normally object to (like practice basic math facts) if they could use technology to do it. With many different questionnaire sites on the web (like Survey Monkey), setting up an informal, evaluation a couple times during the course would provide useful information (Davis, 2009). The survey would not have to be very long. A few questions about the current topic in the class and an open ended comment box at the end could result in feedback to drive instruction in a more effective direction for the class.
Sometimes our own data collection does not help us assess our abilities because we are too close to our own practices. An outside observer can be more objective. Collaborative review involves instructors from other classes observing and giving feedback. Everyone in the collaborative group visits everyone else’s class to observe. Then the group meets to discuss observations. Using this strategy, I can get some useful information to clear up the difference between what I think is happening and what really is happening (Davis, 2009).
Stay tuned for some more ideas next time.