One of the best ways to improve one’s way of teaching is the action taken to globally evaluate our performance in class during the whole year. Evaluating one’s way of teaching and reflecting on it provide the teacher with a precious opportunity to notice his or her points of strength as well as the areas that need improvement. Yet, the way the global evaluation of our performance is done is not authentic or even real. It is usually inspector-dependent and surrounded with instantaneous official statements and protocol, passing heavy judgments on us without any sense of objectivity or enough data to rely on. Consequently, the inspector-judge falls into making up false testimonies on the teacher observed just to cover certain, often personal, administrative requirements. I herby say:”students can notice what theories and theorists fail to”.
First, inspectors, at least in our educational system, can’t provide authentic remarks about the teacher observed, simply because their visits are brief and seldom. This is to say that there is no way to objectively estimate one’s general performance in the classroom until the person carrying out that estimation is always present on the scene where the action of teaching takes place. A short visit to the field doesn’t guarantee any objective outcome. It happens that the teacher might be under unprecedented bad circumstances, which made him confused even well prepared, and surprised by the observer visit at that hour. Imagine the situation!!! Would the inspector half-an-hour visit per a year or half a year be sufficient to recognise the teacher’s skills, potentialities, and philosophy of teaching?
Second, even if the observer had been able to daily attend your sessions, would he have, again, been able to provide an authentic estimation of your performance? Of course not. The observer couldn’t have been so, because your teaching messages are not directed to him, but to your students. Then, the one(s) who is supposed to provide his or her feedback about what you teach, how you teach, and the effects your teaching results in is the student himself. If teaching was a matter of dry techniques and structures, then the observer would ever be the best one to supply objective observations. Yet, teaching is more than that; Teaching, or rather learning is a question of meta-cognitive and affective factors operating inside students. These factors determine how students feel whenever a lesson or even a quick and brief teaching action is performed. Satisfaction or discontent, understanding or misunderstanding is to be expressed by the one(s) who is targeted, undergoes the action, and always present in the field: the student.
Third, students can notice what theories and theorists can’t. This is one of the basic outcomes I came up with when I conducted an open survey including thirty questions about my performance in teaching this year. My students answered the questions, expressing their feelings and opinions, and I was really astonished at their feedbacks. They drew my attention to many things I didn’t pay attention to, or I simply didn’t consider so crucial. For instance, some of the students complained about allocating a special test to the fliers in my classes. They consider this as a sign of discrimination and injustice among my students, and they suggested to me to be just and look at them as equal. Another wrote that I hurt her feelings when I laughed after her answer to a question. Others argued that the space of my voice is too fast, and my handwriting on the board is a bit small though beautiful…etc.
These remarks are undoubtedly authentic and INNOCENT, for they reflect what students feel and experience in their depth and, therefore, address me to make the necessary modifications to meet students’ expectations and learning preferences. These facts would never come to existence if the evaluation was left to the inspector alone, and students-actors were not involved in the feedback process.