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As posted on Getting Smart on May 21, 2014 BY John Hardison
Well, it’s that time of the year again when I march up to a hanging mirror, gaze past my bald-headed exterior, stare deeply into my own eyes, and rattle off a multitude of self-probing questions. This barrage of questions, summed up best by my good friend and colleague, Tommy Wandrum, stem from one foundational question: What do I need to work on to be better next year?
Care to discover some interesting answers? If so, just read below to take an honest self-assessment with these fifty questions and see what truths you reveal.
1. If I were my teacher this school year, would I have liked me?
2. Did I ever speak to a student in a disrespectful tone and embarrass him or her?
3. If “yes” to the above question, did I apologize in a manner that eradicated or at least mitigated the emotional damage that was created?
4. How efficiently did I work this year?
5. Did I refer to the class as our class or my class?
6. Was our class set up strongly with a solid, carefully crafted classroom management plan that included current educational practices like B.Y.O.D. and utilizing an LMS?
7. Did we leave a legacy? (Greg Kinsey)
8. If our class were a company, would it be out-of-business now?
9. Did students create and experience a great class or simply take a class and get credit?
10. Did I cut down a whole forest of trees only to later realize that allowing my students to use their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and edtech apps would have saved time and paper while engaging the students in deeper learning?
11. Did I pay attention and stay connected to my students’ interests?
12. Am I still waiting on a check from the state for overtime pay for all the extra hours spent “working” outside the classroom?
13. Do I actually believe this elusive check will one day show up in my mailbox?
14. Did I ever watch my students walk out of the classroom at the end of the day and ask myself, “Did I forget to eat lunch again?”
15. Did I take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities when students’ interests had obviously shifted, or did I maintain an inflexible mindset and vow to never deviate from an archaic lesson plan?
16. Knowing all along that the students were deeply involved in playing and creating with the standards, was I ever proud when an administrator walked in to observe students at work?
17. Was our class set up to promote creativity and collaboration or memorization and silence?
18. Much like pencils and paper in the past, was technology just a normal and often necessary tool for success in the classroom?
19. Were 21st Century skills embedded within daily assignments?
20. Did I build strong relationships with my students by listening intently, by maintaining eye contact, by asking about their families, and by bragging on their accomplishments?
21. Did I attend my students’ extra-curricular events?
22. Did I gain professional wisdom by speaking to my collegial mentor?
23. Did I teach to a standardized test?
24. Was the technology in my classroom used in an authentic manner? (Shannon Reed)
25. Did I avoid professional negativity by declining to gossip at work?
26. Did I manage my stress level by enjoying time with my family and friends, by exercising several times a week, by zoning out while engaged in a hobby, and by simply chilling out every once in a while?
27. Did I balance my personal and professional lives?
28. Did I laugh often with students and colleagues?
29. Did a trip to the restroom seem like an inconvenience because I had so many projects and papers to grade?
30. Did I forbid the use of smartphones in class, or did I embrace the learning potential within the little handheld laptops?
31. Did I allow students to co-write their own project-based, learning contracts?
32. Were some of my best “lesson plans” created on my thirty-minute commute to work?
33. Was the amount of student choice appropriate to the students and the course? (Adam Johnson)
34. How many colleagues did I observe in-action in their classrooms this past school year?
35. Regarding the faculty, custodial staff, and cafeteria workers with whom I spoke on a daily basis, did I remember the names of all co-workers?
36. Did I follow through on all brainstorming sessions involving worthy ideas?
37. Did our classes maintain a healthy balance between differentiated/personalized instruction and whole-class/talent-based structures that created “Wow!” learning moments?
38. Were my students’ creative expressions and exemplary products displayed in ways that were accessible locally and globally?
39. How balanced were the assignments this year in terms of requiring creativity, practical thinking, and analysis? (Adam Johnson)
40. Did I participate in a professional learning community outside of my school via Twitter?
41. Did I mix leadership and management well in my classroom this year? (Adam Johnson)
42. Was I open to educational inspiration at any time, whether at school or away from work?
43. Was I a true professional this school year?
44. Were my creative ideas and thoughts for school improvement shared with my administration?
45. Did I create the classroom I envisioned and contemplated last summer?
46. Did I consistently blog as a form of professional self-reflection?
47. Am I a stronger teacher today than when I first stepped into the classroom at the beginning of the school year?
48. Did I help students deconstruct classroom walls to see that education is everywhere 24/7/365?
49. Did I barely make it to the Winter Holidays only to hope Santa Claus would leave a gift of sanity under the tree?
50. Did I turn Spring Break into Spring Work?
Whatever answers you told yourself, I’m quite sure they will ultimately lead to what matters the most as an educator…
How will my students reap the rewards of my self-assessment and subsequent improvement?
(A special thanks to Adam Johnson, Greg Kinsey, Greg O’Dell, Shannon Reed, and Tommy Wandrum for their awesome insight.)
John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC) in Gainesville, Georgia. By creating a class where literature creatively comes to life on a stage with students as the stars, Mr. Hardison focuses heavily on creativity, interactive structures, and student choices. In the past 16 years at East Hall High School, he has taught AP Language, American Literature, World Literature, and Applied Communications. Through original learning structures and a shared classroom concept, students are inspired to connect literature with their own talents and interests. Look for John at ISTE '14 in Atlanta and follow him on Twitter at @JohnHardison1.