As we begin a new session, I am reflecting on the past to determine how our institution, including our faculty, staff, and administrators can be more effective in their roles. In my opinion, we can all improve. However, from my experience, one of the most significant hurdles people face is that individuals are not necessarily always open to accepting critique.
According to Weimer (2013), a�?improvement is not a dirty worda�? and we should work towards removing things that are not working, using what is working, as well as identifying and working on areas in which we can improve. She goes on to recommend that we not find quick fixes but rather look for sustainable methods that are carefully planned and implemented.
One way of ensuring we improve is to take the time to self-reflect and identify areas in our knowledge or skill level that require self-improvement. Based on your reflections, set realistic goals that you believe are achievable. And, ensure you that at regular intervals you monitor whether or not you have been working towards the goals, have achieved them, and/or need to modify them. This will set you on a path to success.
As faculty and staff in a learning environment the following advice from Weimer (2013) is worth reviewing:
Focus efforts to improve on encouraging more and better learning for studentsa��a��Take what is known about learning (much is) and work to figure out the instructional implications of that theory and research. Ask yourself this question: If a teacher aspired to teach in ways that promoted learning, what would that teacher do about instructional nuts and bolts such as assignments, classroom policies, and presentational approaches?
Recognize the role of learning in the improvement processa��a��most of what we know about teaching we have learned by doinga��not by study, analysis, and careful reflection. Most faculty are surprised when they discover how much can be learned by reading, by encountering research and theory, and by thoughtful analysis. Part of what makes this learning motivating and satisfying is that class time tomorrow (or sometime soon) offers an opportunity to apply that new knowledge. Most of us love to learn, and seeing teaching and learning as new material to master can make teaching a source of intellectual intrigue.
Personhood is expressed through teachinga��We do teach content and we do teach students, but just as surely we teach who we are. a��students respond to us as people, because teaching reveals something about us as human beings, it leaves us vulnerable, open, exposed, and thereby able to be hurt. Ita��s an occupational hazard for which we dona��t get extra pay or protection. But it also affords opportunitya��the chance to be valued and confirmed as a person, to be honored and respected. This means that better teaching isna��t always about learning the content better. It isna��t always about the acquisition of new techniques. Sometimes ita��s about being a better person.
Improvement begins and ends with the faculty membera��You play the central role in the improvement process. a��.nobody can improve your teaching for you. Ita��s something done by you, for you (and for your students).
Formative feedback guarantees the integrity of the improvement processa��Teachers need diagnostic, descriptive details that help them understand the impact of their policies, practices, and behaviors on student learning. a��You can ask students about the impact of a particular assignment, activity, practice, exam, or reading on their learning. You can ask questions about the impact of any aspect of instruction on learning. You should be asking about many of these aspects if you want to make wise and well-informed decisions about improvement.
Weimer, M. (June 6, 2013).Becoming a Better Teacher: Principles That Make Improvement a Positive Process. Faculty Focus [internet]. Taken October 28, 2013 from http://goo.gl/TFPPIk .