Monday, November 13, 2006

Observation Day

This week included an observation of my class and the one-on-one debriefing with the professor in charge of the particular set of course sections. In general, my reviews seem to be consistent. I was described as energetic, fast-paced, engaging, and even motivational. It's always nice to imagine I might be inspiring some of the students.

In truth, as any instructor knows, half the evaluation depends on the students. I'm more than willing to admit that if the students weren't interested in the topic, motivated to get good grades, and generally self-motivated long before entering my classroom, then I wouldn't stand a chance. If the students had sat silently, or worse, then the review would have been different.

What no observation can measure is if the students are learning. In fact, I can't even measure that with a test, oral presentations, or homework. Real learning won't be revealed until years later. I'll never know if I'm really a good teacher until some past student tells me I did something valuable in a class.

My problem is that while I know I seem to have students engaged, I always wonder what they take from the course. It's a mixture of confidence and doubt. I don't won't to be entertaining... I want to be educational.

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