I can remember being in the College of Education and having a very wise professor once say, “Remember, you are there for the kids, in fact, without them you would be out of a job.” So I try to think of my practice that way. I am there to teach the students and ensure they come to understand and love whatever I am teaching them, but in a way, I am also working for them.
Every teacher knows that each class is different, and if it weren’t we would have been replaced by computer instruction (*ahem* Khan Academy) a long time ago. To respect this difference, teachers mould each class to fit every new set of learners. I am no different.
From the same wise teacher aforementioned I received one of my favourite teaching tools – Start it, Stop it, Keep it.At least 4 times per semester I get my students to fill out a paper with these three titles and fill them in. Something you want me to Start Doing, anything you want me to Stop Doing, and things you want me to Keep Doing. Every year, there are those silly responses, i.e. please start bringing cake to class everyday, or please start doing backflips doing the lesson, etc. But students do really give the best feedback.
If you want to know how you are doing as a teacher, ask the students – and they WILL tell you. Sometimes the answers can sting a bit, like “You never call on me in class” or “I can’t understand a word you write” but take these with a grain of salt and not as a personal attack. We give constructive criticism to our students ALL THE TIME so give them a chance to give you some back and they will really learn how much thought we put into it.
Plus, sometimes you get great warm fuzzies 🙂 .