My Evaluation as a Teacher
Although my goal is to earn my teaching license for education in North America, I’ve already been teaching in Japan for over three years. Despite this, there are many gaps in my educational experience, compounded by the fact that I never attended or was enrolled in any formal teacher education program until recently.
There are many aspects of the teaching experience that I lack, due to my status in Japan. Until just over a year ago, I never had to write progress reports, evaluate students, or do anything other than make lesson plans and teach classes. As a result, I feel very confident in the latter areas but lack confidence in the former ones. Also, as a former assistant language teacher and current kindergarten teacher, I have never been required to submit any proof that my students are learning the material I teach in class. It makes me wary about whether I am an effective teacher or not.
Therefore, when receiving constructive criticism and evaluations from my mentors (both at TEACH-NOW and also any future institutions where I work or study), I will pay special attention to things like assessments, evaluations, and grading. I think a teacher should be judged in a number of areas: teaching effectiveness, lesson planning, rapport with students, disciplinary ability, and other areas of importance.
In school districts in both Japan and America, I see evaluation systems being used where I would be fine being judged by their criteria. For example, Woodcliff Lake in New Jersey evaluates teachers based on areas like professional knowledge, instructional planning, assessment of learning, and student progress. I feel like these are all fair game when judging teachers, since each of these areas contributes to the ultimate relationship between teaching and learning. In Japan, MEXT evaluates teachers by measuring objectives set by teachers and their ability to achieve those objectives, along with classroom observations and relationship with students. Although not as well-defined as Woodcliff Lake’s criteria, the evaluated areas still pertain to aspects of teaching that I consider relevant.
To me, the most unnerving thing is formal observation. My former head of school sat in on a few of my lessons, and a newspaper even documented one of my classes. At those times, I worry not because I am unprepared, but because I tend to get lost in the rhythm of class and lose awareness of what is going on around me. I don’t consider whether I am presenting a lesson that can be evaluated, but rather I focus on a lesson that flows understandably for the students, which leaves me concerned that the lesson won’t be well-received. The added pressure of knowing that an observation can affect my career leads to a lot of stress and even a little fear.
I think I would like any of my peers to look not only at my teaching in the classroom, but also at the completeness of my lesson plans and notes, the state of my workspace, and my rapport with colleagues and students. I would want my observers to have a well-rounded view of me as a an educator. My greatest weakness as an educator and a person in general is missing details, and as a result I have to re-read things and keep vigorous notes. I would make an effort to keep myself well-informed about the criteria for any evaluations, like the Teaching Channel video suggests.
The thing I need to remember is that the person evaluating me has more than likely been in my situation before, so hopefully they will be sympathetic and not judge me too harshly if things don’t exactly go as planned, such as in the Teaching Channel video. Just thinking about that makes me feel a little better.
MEXT (Ministry of Culture and Education):