The primary strategy for evaluating one’s own teaching involves becoming aware and reflecting on one’s practices, in the manner that teachers strive to promote metacognition in learners. To ensure a thorough, multifaceted reflection, thoughts can be organized around the structure provided by RTOP, with its five categories broadly covering the lesson, students’ learning, and classroom interactions. The online description of RTOP (<http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/index.html>) offers for each category a set of recommendations and queries deigned to prompt improvement in teaching.
An alternative approach to eliciting reflections involves observing the teaching of peers and using the observations, with their inherent comparisons and contrasts to one’s own teaching, to prompt self-reflection. This approach is formalized in the Teaching Squares Program (e.g., see <http://www.stonehill.edu/ctl.xml>), in which a small group of faculty participants cultivates a mutually supportive environment exploring their teaching practices. The Teaching Squares Program suggests focusing observations and reflections on particular facets such as the following:
motivation – am I engaging students and conveying my enthusiasm?
content – am I helping students to build on their prior knowledge?
diversity – are my practices reaching the full range of learning styles?
instructional strategies – am I prompting metacognition and deep thinking?
classroom climate – are interactions among students, as well as between students and me, being fostered?
A distinct advantage of the Teaching Squares Program is the nurturing of a network of colleagues engaged in incorporating learner-centered approaches. Such networks or communities of practice are pivotal in promoting transformation of the classroom (reviewed in Borko, Professional development and teacher learning: mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher 33 (8): 3-15, 2004; ).
Self-reflection on one’s teaching practices is highly valuable, but so also is combining the reflections with evaluative data from faculty peers and students, since self-perceptions of one’s practices at times differ from observations (Ebert-May, Derting, Hodder, Momsen, Long, and Jardeleza, What we say is not what we do: effective evaluation of faculty professional development programs. Bioscience 61 (7): 550-558, 2011).