Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Reflection on Teaching Review:

Meeting prior to my teaching evaluation was a helpful first step in the evaluation process. For one, it let me contextualize the classroom period that was about to be observed. After the first day, no classroom period is a stand-alone experience for students– the previous content covered, established classroom dynamic, and the course structure/schedule form the learning context for each class period. A one-on-one conversation conveying these elements broadens the observer’s perspective beyond that single class period, getting closer to what students experience holistically as a course. 

Moreover, during that initial evaluation, I was able to share some of my prepared materials: assignment descriptions, syllabus, etc. Preparing for class and constructing learning activities constitute the bulk of the teaching load. Hence, a teaching evaluation based solely on the classroom experience is divorced from a significant fraction of the practice of instruction.

Meeting following my teaching evaluation served to offer immediate feedback on my instructional practices. Without this meeting shortly after the class period, feedback can linger for months before the review process is completed. After this period of time, connecting the observation to specific, actionable practices would be much more difficult.

Finally, a meeting following my teaching evaluation let me triage the class period alongside the observer, rather than have them provide an independent critique. There were, of course, aspects of my classroom period that fell short of my intentions. For a given class period, I would normally reflect those shortcomings by myself, and adjust the next class period accordingly. With the post-observation meeting, I had the opportunity to unpack: (1) what worked well, (2) what didn’t work well, and (3) bounce ideas off of the experienced observer as to ways to improve. This makes my teaching evaluation feel collaborative, rather than remedial.

In short, meeting with the observer and discussing the classroom visit afterwards not only improved my classroom practices with specific, actionable feedback, but offered practice in being more reflective about my own teaching by working through the experience with a practiced instructor. I would happily have my review structured in this manner again.