Saturday, November 17, 2012

IBL Self Check

Measuring yourself against your personal best is one of the best ways to evaluate yourself.  This is done in sports in particular, where the goal is to improve on one's best time or score.  IBL instructors can do this too!

How can we get better as instructors?  Focusing on the skills and practice of teaching is the way forward.  This list of self-assessment questions are meant as a guide or start. It is not definitive.  Ultimately your ability to improve rests upon being able to see what your students are doing and what you are doing that affects students.   If you can identify areas where you can improve, even if you are successful in that area, it gives you clear direction where you can exert your energy as a teacher.

Classroom Context and Teacher Moves:
  1. Are student presenting/sharing ideas in class regularly? Can this be done more often in a way that benefits students?
  2. What percent of time is devote to student-centered activities?
  3. Are students deeply engaged in the tasks you have given them?  Can your problems/tasks be improved?
  4. How many times per class period are you being supportive by giving encouragement, positive feedback, coaching, adjusting tasks to meet the needs of your students?
  5. Can you give more positive feedback?
  6. Can you improve the problems/tasks given to students?  Are the problems too procedural in nature? Are there good concept questions?  Are the problems too difficult?
Nature of student interaction:
  1. How satisfied are you of students' solutions?
  2. Do your students view you or a book as the mathematical authority? That is, do they frequently require an external (to them) authority to validate answers?
  3. Are students able to understand and explain other students' solutions or strategies?
  4. Are students mimmicking a book or model (i.e. "google search solution/proof") or are they generating solutions/proofs "from the ground up"?
  5. Are a wide range of students regularly participating in class through presentations, questions, discussions?
  6. Are there quiet students in class who do no participate very much?  If yes, then how many?
  7. Are there any dominant personalities?  Are such personalities hindering the learning of some of the others sometimes?
  8. What is the stress/anxiety level of your class on a scale from 1 to 10?
Keep it simple.  Here are some basic tools in a class that you have direct control over:
  • Problems and tasks
  • Questions/directions you say
  • Basic strategies employed: groups, pairs, think-pair-share, class discussions
An example of how you can improve is if you identify that only 4 students answer your questions in class.  Then instead of asking "What is the answer to...?"  You can say, "Work on this, and I'll call on a person/group at random..."  Then you can get more students involved.

If every term you make a few meaningful improvements, then in a few years you can be brilliant!