18/100: Reflecting on Penny Ur’s Teaching Tips – 16. Assess Yourself

Spot the difference! Naomi's Photos
Spot the difference!
Naomi’s Photos

This is part sixteen of my blogging challenge.

As a veteran teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why. 

I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.

Tip Number 88: “Assess yourself”

I couldn’t agree more – assessing is something we need to do to ourselves, not just the students. It is particularly necessary for veteran teachers, so as to avoid going into “sleep-teaching” mode – teaching purely based on habit. Doing that places the teacher in danger of failing to adapt her teaching style to the ever-changing needs/demands of the students and system and feeling bored with the profession.

The author discusses three ways to assess your teaching practices. I actually see the second two as two sides of the same coin and, would like to expand the first.

I totally agree that getting feedback from a reliable colleague is a very tricky issue. Everyone is so busy at school and asking to be observed can be awkward. However, it’s amazing how blogging truthfully about your lesson and then discussing it online with members of your PLN (Personal learning Network) can help you assess your lesson.  I emphasize the word amazing because none of the teachers in my own PLN teach EFL to deaf and hard of hearing students in the format of a learning center in the national school system. Nonetheless, these teachers have helped me understand what didn’t work well in a lesson or did in fact work well and why this must be so.

I cannot separate giving yourself feedback after a lesson and using the students as a source of feedback and assessment. When a lesson ends I judge it by the students’ reactions. Did they concentrate? Were they working or wasting time? Did they demonstrate that they understood the material? Did I have to explain the same point for a long time? What did they say to me and to each other?

The students’ feedback comes through loud and clear, as long as I take the time to reflect on it.


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