Evaluation of a beginning teacher’s progress
A beginning science teacher's ability to self-evaluate their own teaching practice develops over time, aided by mentor/experienced teachers' feedbacks. In addition, part of the beginning teacher’s self-evaluation requires feedback from pupils which they evaluate to improve the quality of teaching and learning. In this section of the chapter, we present some mentoring strategies that you can use to encourage a beginning teacher to evaluate their teaching effectively.
Self-evaluations of lesson debrief
A beginning teacher is regularly observed by you and/or by other experienced teachers to offer feedback during lesson debriefs, to strengthen their teaching practice. At the same time, it is necessary for the beginning teacher to self-evaluate their teaching practices, to enable them to develop their future practice. Therefore, you need to support a beginning teacher you are mentoring to self-evaluate their lessons, at all stages of development, such as after teaching: a micro-teaching lesson (probably during the survival stage of development), an individual lesson (probably during recognising difficulties stage of development), a series of lessons (probably during hitting a plateau stage of development) and teaching complete units of work (probably during moving on stage of development).
A discussion on self-evaluations based on a part/whole lesson debrief or a combination of lesson debriefs is ideally conducted every week in weekly mentoring meetings (Chapter 9, section 1, describes the difference between lesson debrief and weekly mentoring meetings). One of the skills that you need to support the beginning teacher to develop is to think of aspects of the lesson that went well (or not). This can be reinforced by initiating a discussion on lesson debriefs to talk about three things the beginning teacher did well and how these three things can be strengthened further and then talk about three things that did not go well and how they can develop this aspect. This evaluation process can be supported by using the WRAP (Wonder, Reinforce, Adjust, Plan) feedback framework (see Chapter 8, pp. 129-131). In addition, you could suggest to the beginning teacher that they map their self-evaluations over time. Task 7.8 asks you to encourage a beginning teacher you are mentoring to self-evaluate their development along with some discussions with you progressively.
Task 7.8 Self-evaluation and mentor-mentee discussions
To support mentor-mentee discussions based on self-evaluations:
- 1. First share Appendix 7.1 with the beginning teacher and discuss the scope of the terms basic teaching skills, teaching strategies and pupil-centred teaching style. Some examples of basic teaching skills and teaching strategies are provided in the Appendix 7.1
- 2. Next, under the Week 1 part of the basic teaching skills and/or teaching strategies, ask the beginning teacher to identify and evaluate some specific basic teaching skills and/or teaching strategies, they practised during the week. They could mark these as (i) one of their best, (ii) one of their worst and (iii) a new basic teaching skill and/or strategy that they will be planning to develop in the following week
[To keep these evaluations concise, you could advise the beginning teacher to limit their evaluations to 100 words for each of the chosen basic teaching skill and/or teaching strategy, or use bullet points to make their notes brief.]
- 3. Next, encourage the beginning teacher to continue evaluating their lessons in a similar way for the next three weeks
- 4. Finally, arrange a meeting with the beginning teacher so that they can share the evaluations they have gathered over the four weeks. During this meeting you need to keep refocusing the beginning teacher's evaluations on basic teaching skills and teaching strategies and discuss how their effective use of some basic teaching skills and different teaching strategies can develop a pupil-centred teaching style. Encourage the beginning teacher to record these in the pupil-centred teaching style section of Appendix 7.1
- 5. You can repeat this cycle after every month or whenever you and/or the beginning teacher feel the need to reinforce some basic teaching skills and teaching strategies to strengthen pupil-centred teaching style.
Self-evaluations of pupils' feedback
Pupils’ feedback on teaching strategies can be very useful, especially when a beginning teacher has started to teach a series of lessons. During this time, a beginning teacher has used a number of teaching strategies, so pupils have enough experience to provide feedback about the beginning teacher. This feedback should be formative for the beginning teacher to enable them to adjust their teaching strategies appropriately. The pupil feedback could be obtained via discussion or anonymously via sticky-notes or a class representative. Some statements, along with feedback options, are given in brackets are given below. A beginning teacher could consider using these in order to gather pupils' feedback (T refers to pupils below):
- • If I don’t understand something, the teacher explains it to me (Never/sometimes/often/ always).
- • I understood today's lesson (Not at all/a little/a bit/a lot).
- • Today's lesson was interesting (Not at all/a little/a bit/a lot).
- • I can choose who I want to work with (Never/sometimes/often/always).
- • The teacher helps me self-evaluate my learning (Never/sometimes/often/always).
- • I can suggest a science topic that interests me (Never/sometimes/often/always).
- • I like science (Not at all/a little/a bit/a lot).
These statements and feedback options can be extended by asking pupils to write the reasons for their choice of option given in brackets. For example, if the pupil chose 'a little bit' for the statement 'today’s lesson was interesting’ the beginning teacher can provide an opportunity to the pupil to write why they think that? and so on.
To gather pupils' feedback, you need to support the beginning teacher to use different tools to gather evidence of pupils’ learning progression. In doing this, you can support them by modelling the use of some effective tools that you use to gather pupils' feedback. For example, asking pupils to: evaluate the lesson using traffic lights (red -1 do not understand; amber - I understand some of the lesson; green - I understand the lesson), make a personal learning portfolio, design a concept map based on what they have learned (or not), use smartphones as polling devices to monitor pupils' engagement using apps such as Google Forms, Socrative, Kahoot, et cetera. After modelling from your own practice, you can ask the beginning teacher to practise using a few of these tools in their teaching. Task 7.9 asks you to support a beginning teacher to reflect on the use of selected tools to gather pupils' feedback.
Task 7.9 Supporting a beginning teacher to self-evaluate their practice based on pupils' feedback
Undertake the following actions to support a beginning teacher to self-evaluate their teaching practices:
- 1. Ask the beginning teacher to select a tool that they have used (or a tool they have observed someone else using) to evaluate pupils' feedback as a way to self-evaluate their teaching practices.
- 2. Encourage the beginning teacher to identify three merits and three limitations of using a particular tool. How can they use this tool more effectively?
- 3. Next, involve the beginning teacher in a discussion to evaluate:
The impact of pupils' feedback on their planning and teaching The need for modification of some teaching strategies.
Summary and key points
This chapter has identified the following points:
- • Different stages of teacher development require different mentoring approaches and it is your responsibility to modify your mentoring strategies according to a beginning teacher’s developmental needs.
- • Your support for a beginning teacher to demonstrate some characteristic features of becoming an effective teacher is vital at all the stages of development.
- • You need to guide a beginning teacher to incorporate basic teaching skills, different teaching strategies and a pupil-centred teaching style so that they develop as an effective teacher.
- • A beginning teacher needs your support to effectively self-evaluate their lessons by focusing on their reflections to promote pupils' progress.
- • It is your responsibility to guide a beginning teacher to strengthen their teaching by self-evaluating their teaching practices. This includes the aggregation of evidence from lesson debriefs provided by you and/or experienced staff members, and pupils' feedback.
Kind, V. and Taber, K. (2005) Teaching School Subjects 11 -19: Science. Abingdon: Routledge. This book is a wide-ranging introduction to beginning to teach science in secondary schools. It suggests and supports beginning teachers to plan teaching (part II) and evaluating (part III), and it offers support in many areas of learning to teach. In particular, Chapter 8 Acting to Teach Science offers useful suggestions about developing a beginning teacher's confidence in teaching science for pupils aged 11-19.
Mosston, M. and Ashworth, S. (2002) Teaching Physical Education. 5th edn. San Francisco, CA: Pearson.
Mosston and Ashworth's continuum - or spectrum - of teaching styles offers a useful conceptualisation of the amount of teacher or pupil input appropriate for different classroom activities. Although the continuum was derived in the context of physical education, it can be applied to any teaching subject including science. Mosston's teaching styles are referred to as teaching strategies in this chapter (see also pp. 105-109).