Teaching Strengths
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Teaching Strengths: Seven Activities

The very best teachers share some common traits: They are consistent, they have high expectations, they are good classroom managers, they are motivators, they engage students with meaningful activities, and they have a love of learning. But each teacher builds upon these traits with his or her own unique teaching style.

The best teachers are continually in the process of growing.  They refine their teaching by appraising their strengths and weakness, by obtaining feedback from other educators, and by maintaining an honest and realistic view of their competencies.

  Objectives

  • To identify your teaching strengths

  • To strengthen strategies that are working

  • To affirm your ability as a teacher  

Activity One: Reflections  Write a short answer or response to the following questions and statements.  Note: You may want to probe these questions with your mentor or a discussion group.

 

  1. What is your greatest strength as a teacher?  What is your greatest weakness?

  2. List personality traits that facilitate your success as a teacher.

  3. If you were asked to speak to a group of student teachers, what advice would you give them?

  4. Identify three things that you have learned about students.

  5. Define the following terms:

  • Student mastery

  • High expectations

  • Student-directed lessons

  • Hands on activities

  • Controlled classroom environment

  • Collegiality

  • Teaching excellence

Activity Two: Highlights Review your teaching up to this point by looking at some highlights.  Provide an example from your experience for each of the categories listed below.  Your responses will give you insights into your teaching strengths.

  1. A learning breakthrough.  An example of a time when a student(s) had an intellectual “Ah ha.”

  2. A relationship breakthrough.  An example of a situation where you knew you had “connected” with a student(s).

  3. A productive lesson.  A lesson, unit, or activity that really accomplished your objectives.

  4. Student excitement.  An example of a time when a student(s) became truly excited about your teaching.

  5. Student support.   An example of a situation when you helped a student(s) who was agitated or troubled.

  6. Student encouragement.  An example of a time when your praise or encouragement lifted or motivated a student.

  7. Clever Improvisation.  An example of a time when you had to alter your plans and improvise—and it worked!

  8. A Creative Twist.  An approach or lesson that was particularly creative and/or unique.

  9. Modeling.   An example where you modeled for students the right behavior or response to a situation.

  10. Shared laughter.  A situation where you and your students shared a laugh or amusement together.

  11. A pleasant surprise.  An example of a situation where the students pleasantly and unexpectedly surprised you.

Activity Three: Expectations  Successful teachers have high expectations for student success.  Generate a list of student expectations by completing the statement.

“In my classroom, students must _________________.”

Place your expectations in priority order.

As a follow-up, do the following (modify it to fit the maturity level of your students):

  • After a brief discussion to define expectations, have your students list the expectations they have as they learn in your classroom.

  • Next have the students rank their list in order of significance.  Does your personal list of expectations coordinate with the student list?  What can you learn from the student list?

  • If age appropriate, show your students your list of expectations; discuss, and subsequently ask them to agree on which ones are most important to them. 

Activity Four: Video Learning Video tape three teaching sessions of colleagues.  After reviewing the tapes, answer the following questions:

  • If you were a student in his/her class, would you learn from this teacher?

  • Is this teacher engaging and personable

  • Does this teacher know his/her stuff?

  • Does this teacher have a style? Describe.

  • Is the presentation clear, organized, and paced appropriately?

Activity Five: Time Spent  Is your teaching efficient?  Do you use the time you have with your students effectively?  One way to gain insight into your use of time is to do a time-allocation chart.  There are essentially five basic categories of classroom time: A. Instructional Time where the teacher is actively instructing students. B. Work Time where students are working on a particular task or assignment. C. Feedback Time where students are demonstrating what they know. D. Social Time where students are engaged in interpersonal behavior. E. Media Time where the students are watching and/or listening: video, PowerPoint, film, tape, recordings, slides, tapes, etc.

            Use the chart below to keep track of time spent in your classroom over five consecutive days by marking down the percentage of time spent on each of the categories, A-E. 

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Instructional

%

%

%

%

%

Work

%

%

%

%

%

Feedback

%

%

%

%

%

Social

%

%

%

%

%

Media

%

%

%

%

%

Based on the chart’s data, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have a balanced blend of time categories?

  2. Does your distribution of time support student learning?

  3. Do you need to increase work time?

  4. Does your time allocation support student participation?

Activity Six: Inventory  Take a personal inventory of your teaching behaviors.  For each teacher action listed below, rate yourself using the following scale: 1=ineffective, 2=somewhat ineffective, 3=average, 4=effective, 5=very effective.  Present this form to five other teachers and have them rate you based on observations.  Does your self- perception match the observations of fellow teachers?

  Personal Inventory

1  2  3  4  5

1.   I use visuals meaningfully

1  2  3  4  5

2.  My handouts are clear and easy to follow

1  2  3  4  5

3.  My grading is fair and based on sound data

1  2  3  4  5

4.  I ask insightful questions

1  2  3  4  5

5.  I am a good and patient listener

1  2  3  4  5

6.  My lessons have clear objectives

1  2  3  4  5

7.  I vary activities for student interest

1  2  3  4  5

8.  I frequently use hands-on activities

1  2  3  4  5

9.  My homework assignments are meaningful

1  2  3  4  5

I correct assignments carefully and promptly

1  2  3  4  5

My tests are fair and timely

1  2  3  4  5

I build sound relationships with students

1  2  3  4  5

My directions are clear and concise

1  2  3  4  5

I frequently check for mastery

1  2  3  4  5

My work is challenging but not overwhelming

1  2  3  4  5

My expectations are clear

1  2  3  4  5

I use age-appropriate materials

1  2  3  4  5

Humor is a part of my classroom

1  2  3  4  5

My classroom is attractive and inviting

1  2  3  4  5

I am student centered

1  2  3  4  5

My teaching is values driven

1  2  3  4  5

I am organized

1  2  3  4  5

I lead focused and interesting discussions

1  2  3  4  5

I use specific student praise

Activity Seven: Feedback Teachers often overlook the best feedback source—the students.  Have your class or selected students generate a list of positive teacher characteristics.  Have them complete the following sentence:

“The very best teachers are ones who__________________.”

From their list, create a simple checklist for yourself.  At different points during the school year ask yourself if you are meeting these student expectations.  Periodically, have selected students appraise your teaching style against the student-generated list of traits.

 


Professional Development Activities (Select a category listed below)

 

 

 

 

 

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