Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 3: Evaluation (of me!)

Day 3 of the Reflective Teaching Challenge
What is an observation area I'd like to see improved when being evaluated? 

I hope I answer this one correctly! I so want to be a "good" student.

There is a criteria on our faculty evaluation forms sheet for student engagement. My classes have a combination of lecture, class discussion, as well as small group and individual activities. I think one of my weakest areas is the large class discussion.

When I was at the university, I had an instructor who excelled at calling on students to keep the class engaged. Yes, she would accept raised hands when she asked a question to the class, but more than half the time she called on various students first. There was a pace, an urgency to her calling on us that I have not seen another instructor match. Overall, the technique came across as a great way to keep students on their toes and encourage them to do the reading. It also encouraged some of the quieter students (like me, back in the day!) to speak.

As a student, I remember lots of times when instructors asked us questions as a class. The professor usually didn't give us much time to formulate an answer, as the fastest-thinking (and loudest) student would typically shout out an answer quickly. And, it was usually the same five people. But I often had something to say, and with the other teacher calling on me directly, I was happy to have my moment to share. It was a chance to prove myself again and again in the class. Fortunately, she was not cruel if we didn't happen to have an answer, which is important.

I tell my students on the first day of class that I will call on them sometimes, either to read something aloud or to share an answer. I swear I will achieve that perfect pacing the university instructor did, but I never get the rhythm down. Then, something happens once I know the students. Thoughts cross my mind, like, "Oh, X hasn't done the homework in two weeks. They won't have the answer, so why bother?" or "Y is so shy. Give them a pass this time around." I probably do better than the prof who only asked open-ended questions and never called on anyone, but I got a long way to go.

The uni instructor I'm remembering highly wouldn't do that. I shouldn't, either. I hope the next time I evaluate I don't hesitate to call on a truly random person in the class--even if they have a less-than-stellar record of participation.


Henry Aronson said...

I so, so struggle with the dreaded
"wait time". What I've done with think/pair/share type activities is just as students start their private/paired sharing or writing, I say something like, "When we debrief with the whole class, David, Juana, and Marcus will start us off." I stole that strategy from one of my professor role models who would, right before a break, say, "Valerie and Josh haven't had a chance to speak yet, so when we get back, they'll get us started on the next topic . . . " Thanks for making me think of her . . .

E & S said...

Letting them know they're gonna get called on! *hand forehead* So simple, so smart. Thanks.

lky said...

Henry, I loooooooooooooove that idea! I have a "jack in the box" student this semester: ask a question and he immediately belts out an answer. Some days I'm good at making him raise his hand, but others not so much. (Last time, I thought, well I just won't look at him, and I'll address the question to the other half of the class. Nope, Jack still popped!)