Assuming that on one is perfect and therefore everyone has room for improvement, evaluation is the means by which we try to identify which aspects of our teaching should be argued on and which need to be changed. The question then arises as to who should take responsibility for doing this evaluation. Therefore, it is the teacher himself or herself who should take the primary responsibilities for doing the evaluation.
Doing good evaluation is like doing good research because in both cases the teachers are trying to answer important questions about important topics. The key to doing well in both is through identifying the right question to ask and figuring out how to answer them. Regardless of how good or how poor we are as teachers, we all have the potential to get better overtime. Yet some teachers continually improve and approach their potential while others experience a modest improvement early in their career and then seem to level off in quality or sometimes even decline.
A second reason to evaluate is to document the quality of one’s teaching for others. All career professionals have other people who need to know about the quality of their teaching. But once people teach, they have a track record that others may need and want to know. The only way a teacher can provide them with that information is to gather it in a teaching portfolio. Putting a portfolio together also helps the teacher understand his or her own teaching better.
Third, there is a very personal and human need to evaluate. This is for our own mental and psychological satisfaction. It is one thing to do a good job and think that it went well; it is quite another and a far more enjoyable experience, to have solid information and thereby know that we did a good job. That knowledge and that certainty, is possible only if we do a thorough job of evaluation.
Most learning involves all three domains. The teachers must make materials meaningful and allow immediate application of knowledge. They must plan for periodic rests and tell their student how they are progressing. The teacher must also be careful about improving non-verbal communications. It is not only what a teacher says in the class room, but it is how a teacher says it that can make the difference to students. Non-verbal messages are an essential component of communication in the teaching process.
Another principle is eye contact. Teachers who make eye contacts open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern and warmth. Gestures, postures and body orientation are also notable features for teaching effectiveness. The other factor proximity is also very important. Cultural norms dictate a comfortable distance for interaction with students. A teacher should look for signals of discomfort caused by invading students’ space. Some of these are rocking, leg swinging, taping, gaze aversion etc. Typically, in large college classes space invasion is not a problem. In fact, there is usually too much distance. To counteract this, a teacher must move around the classroom to increase interaction with students. Increasing proximity enables a teacher to make better eye contact and increases the opportunities for students to speak.
Finally, humor is often overlooked as a teaching tool and it is too often not encouraged in college classrooms. Laughter releases stress and tension for both instructor and student. A teacher should develop the ability to laugh and encourage students to do the same. It fosters a friendly classroom environment that facilitates learning.
A teacher must be a skilled educational executive to understand clearly the mission and purpose of the organisation he serves and develop himself the personal quality to enhance those mission and purpose. Educational executives must be good performers and managers at the same time. Moreover, educational executives must adapt to requirements of the job.
For ensuring teaching effectiveness, the executives and teachers must focus on the values. The most challenging task of an executive and a teacher is to plan appropriately before starting their work. Besides, they must be practical and creative.
The writer is a columnist
Dr Forqan Uddin Ahmed