The end of the school year is the perfect time for a teacher self-evaluation. As the year winds down, I like to take stock of my teaching and decide if there are any gaps I need to fill. Here are some questions I recommend asking yourself as you take a look at the state of your own teaching career.
1. Do I Need an Advanced Degree?
In many states, teachers are required to get a master's degree within five years. But even if you're in a state that doesn't require it, a master's degree might still be worthwhile. Graduate studies can deepen your knowledge of pedagogy and give you skills that can make a big difference in the classroom. It can also make an impact on your career, moving you up on the salary ladder and making you a stronger candidate for new positions and opportunities. If you don't have your master's yet, it's worth considering whether the benefits are worth the time, effort, and expense for you.
2. Do I Need to Take More Coursework?
I earned my master's degree many years ago, but that didn't mean I was done learning. Teaching is a dynamic profession, and each year can bring new variables that affect your teaching practice.
For me, one such variable was a large influx of English language learners (ELLs) to my district. I needed techniques, grounded in research and practice, to help those ELL students succeed. I also wanted to understand how to best help my students with disabilities. I decided to take a couple of summer courses, which provided me with a more comprehensive understanding of the students in my classroom, as well as specific tools and strategies to use in my teaching.
My friend, Sarah, wanted to better understand how to analyze classroom data, so she took an online graduate school class in data analysis. If you're noticing an area where you think your teaching could improve, taking a course can help you address that shortcoming and turn it into a strength.
3. Am I Effectively Sharing My Expertise?
Being a teacher leader and a sharing professional makes you valuable to your school district. The end of the year is a great time to see what practices you might be able to share with your colleagues. For example, since I've become quite knowledgeable on how to motivate reluctant learners, I plan on sharing what I've learned with my colleagues. My friend Erin's students got exceptional scores on the English language conventions portion of our state test. I'm anxious to hear how she did it, and I'm hoping she will share her techniques with our professional learning group in the fall. If you have a particular area of strength, be sure to let others benefit from your expertise.
Further reading: Mentors for Teachers
4. Am I Effectively Learning from Other Teachers?
I am always inspired and encouraged by the work of my fellow teachers across the country. This summer, I plan on doing a great deal of reading with the hopes of becoming inspired by stories from other teachers' classrooms. I also hope to attend some conferences this summer to learn from the expertise of teachers, professors, and other experts. Sure, I plan to relax and sun on my deck, too, but I know I always feel better when I'm improving my professional skills, as well.
5. Am I Addressing My Students' Social-Emotional Needs?
It has become abundantly clear that schools need to do more to help meet the social-emotional needs of students. My end-of-the-year teacher self-evaluation put this at the top of my list for this summer. I hope to learn more about how to help my students who struggle with issues outside the classroom. I want to be able to provide them with the skills to understand the mind-body connection, and to connect them with the services they may need to help them succeed in the classroom.
6. How Can I Look After My Own Health?
The next school year, I hope to sleep more, play more, and have a better work-life balance. Of course, that's been my perpetual goal for the past 23 years, but one of these days I might actually achieve it! I plan on re-energizing and recharging this summer to help me avoid that burnout that sets in about three-quarters of the way through every school year. That means I'll be working on taming those time-management challenges and perfecting my classroom management techniques so my students don't get derailed, as well as following the steps necessary to remain a healthy teacher.
Further reading: 9 Stress Management Strategies
A teacher self-evaluation is well worth the time and effort. It can help you advance in your career, meet the challenges of your classroom, and ensure that you'll be a happy, healthy, and effective teacher in the upcoming school year.