Teacher Self Assessment

skyscrapers resembling reflection

reflections in mirrorsThe Value of Reflection

I believe that reflection is a vital part of a healthy and balanced life. This includes self-reflection, for how else will we be able to chart our paths for self-improvement? When schools go through the accreditation process, they have to do a self-study. I’ve been through several such experiences for accreditation by Council of International Schools (CIS) and Middle States Association (MSA) of Schools and Colleges. I found it an arduous but rewarding process because it highlighted the things that the school was doing well, and guided us through a process for prioritizing and implementing improvements for the school. It required individual reflection and group reflection, discussions between various groups of colleagues as well as the teaching staff, goal-setting, implementation and evaluation. I think that this is a great model for teacher evaluation.

Revising Teacher Evaluation

I previously taught at a small international school. Our superintendent explained that he had a hard time evaluating us from just a few visits to our classroom, knowing that those few visits provided an incomplete picture. He suggested self-evaluation and peer evaluation as steps in the teacher evaluation process. The staff members brainstormed to decide what made a good teacher and came up with ideas like classroom management, collaboration with colleagues, use of technology, student perception of learning and teaching within the classroom, preparedness, pedagogical knowledge. Then a sub-committee looked at the brainstormed ideas as well as models of teacher self-assessment found online, and created the first draft. The sub-committee consulted with the staff and used the feedback to create a working document.

It Starts with Self-Assessment

The first step was self-assessment, requiring evidence to support the level of proficiency that the teacher thought he/she had. Next was peer assessment. Teachers identified peers to assess them and could decide how many times they wanted to complete a peer assessment. Then they could have a principal or the superintendent evaluate them. The superintendent would first meet with the teacher to discuss their self and peer evaluation steps, the improvements they’d made and their existing challenges. Then he/she would observe the teacher during at least two classes. As part of the process, teachers evaluated both the assessment standards and the process and made appropriate revisions at the end of each school year.

Some teachers resented the self-evaluation as one more thing to keep track of. They had trouble gathering evidence to show their level of proficiency for each standard. This was a few teachers; most took ownership of the process and benefited from it. However, we had a community of teachers that were generally reflective. We spent staff meetings discussing articles by Alfie Kohn, Wiggins and McTighe and “Classroom Instruction that Works”. Teachers were constantly asked to take part in the decision-making of the school and gave feedback to the superintendent. The school aimed to be student-centred and recognized that it also had to be teacher-centered and support teachers.

Learning from Process

I believe in self-assessment. I use it in my classes and for myself. Incorporating self-assessment appeals to me because it lets teachers identify their challenges AND work to improve them. Hopefully we do the same thing in our classrooms. We focus on the process, letting kids revise, improve, resubmit because the process and the learning that happens is more important than the tangible product.

Some teachers are uncomfortable with videotaping their lessons or having peer assessment. Maybe that’s because we need consistent standards between ourselves and those who assess us, or maybe it’s because knowing that we’re being “watched” forces us to self-reflect, a sometimes unflattering and scary process.


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Revised January 30, 2018. First published on February 18, 2010

Realize your Wish for Technology Integration into the Classroom

Realize your Wish

You’ve clarified your wish for technology integration in your classroom using the WOOP process. Now you have to take steps to realize your wish. At the simplest level, keep the intention in mind as you plan your units and lessons, and find authentic opportunities to use technology that match your intention. This allows your students to develop technology skills within the context of a subject or multiple subjects. This makes the use of technology purposeful and meaningful.

It’s useful to think about what’s involved in realizing your wish. What are the parts of your wish? This is like coming up with the lines of inquiry for an essential question. The components will help you identify possible activities that align with your intention for technology integration.

Possible Activities to Purposefully Integrate Technology

Here are some examples of activities to help students select reliable sources of information online for use in each of their research papers (my wish from the WOOP process):

  • conduct inquiries as a class to answer a research question
    • co-construct search queries with students
  • evaluate the credibility, relevance, accuracy and perspective of information, media, data and resources online
    • model/demonstrate
    • have students practice
    • have students submit their evaluation of resources used for the first few assignments, and allow peer or teacher feedback
  • create citations using Explore in Google Docs (for an analysis, research paper, etc.)
  • Use Google Scholar to find published research
  • visit the library to learn about the school’s subscription services from the librarian (or invite the librarian to the classroom)
  • Compare results on Google with those from other search engines and databases

You’ve probably noticed from the brainstormed list that the activities aren’t focusing on technology; they are using technology to meet a particular goal. Students aren’t exploring Explore in Docs in case they need it someday; they’re using it to create a citation relevant to their research.

It’s your turn. Go ahead and brainstorm a list of activities to meet your wish. Consider the outcome that you specified before and whether the activities will achieve that outcome.


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Photo credit: Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Goal-setting for Technology Integration in your Classroom

goalsetting page with coffee cup

ball in goalGoal-setting

You’re either near the start of a new academic year or halfway through it. It’s a good time to set/revise your goal for technology integration in the classroom. Setting a goal helps you clarify your intention and can focus your energy when using technology in the classroom.

Goal-setting is the process of determining and planning what you want to accomplish. Goal-setting tells your mind what to expect, and is useful for evaluating your progress, and transferring your learning. There are many different approaches that you can take to planning for goal-setting. The SMART (Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) approach to goal setting is popular, and you’re welcome to use it. I would like to share the WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) approach, which is useful for technology integration, where mindset and attitude are often what’s keeping us from taking the first step, or keeping to the path. It’s also more accessible in education than SMART, because we may not know exactly what’s realistic when engaged in action research, and other experiments for innovation and transformation.

The WOOP System

When using the WOOP system, it is important to maintain the integrity of the system. This involves two concepts: do the steps in order, and visualize the steps as you carry them out. First, you will decide on one main wish for using technology in your classroom. Then you will complete the outcome step. In the outcome step, focus on student learning and add specificity to your wish. If you’re using the SMART method instead, you may need to use the 5 W’s to help you come up with an appropriate goal. Then you will consider what internal obstacle is most likely to stand in the way of you achieving your wish/goal and write it down as the obstacle. The final step is to plan how you will overcome this obstacle, using an if, then format.

Choosing a Goal/Wish

Don’t be discouraged if you have trouble coming up with a goal or wish that pleases you. Often, teachers tell me that they would like to use more technology in their classroom. The visualization stage in the outcome will help you clarify your purpose for choosing that wish. If you recently got a set of new technology devices in your classroom and are still learning when and how to use them, choose one of the indicators in the ISTE Standards for students to start with. Standard 3c “Students curate information from digital sources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions” (ISTE) could become a wish to help students select reliable sources of information online for use in each of their research papers.

Complete the Steps in the WOOP System

Once you have a goal or wish, write it down in a notebook or in an electronic document. Then complete the other steps of WOOP. Here is a handy template for your use. 

It’s useful to have a file or notebook to help you plan and document your technology integration journey. Documentation is important to give us data and information for evaluating our progress. It’s also useful for replicating our experience, and for sharing it with others. When you’re in the process of experimentation and experience, it’s easy to forget details or to lose sight of the whole picture. Documentation will help avoid these problems. The next post will share some suggestions for realising your wish.


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3 excellent sources of free images for school use

Websites for finding images

3 sources of images

There are lots of websites for finding images online. Here are three of my favourite for use with students, and in your own work.

  1. Photos for Class  – this is my favourite site, especially for use with children in lower elementary school. The images are safe for school use, and the citation is embedded in the image. You can even embed Photos for Class right into your class website so that it’s easy for your students to find and use.
  2.  Unsplash– this website exists through the generosity of creators, who allow their images to be used completely free. Citations are appreciated but not required. There are some photos that may be racy for younger children, but a quick search with some key words did not reveal any pornography.
  3. The Noun Project – this site has images for every noun, which is especially useful for teachers. An account is required, as are citations.

Classroom Use

These sites are appropriate for all grade levels. Share it with students by e-mail, through posters or on a class website.

For the elementary classroom, I suggest that you download the poster and put it in your classroom. Students can scan the QR code to quickly access any of the websites without having to type in the address. You can also take the opportunity to teach children to bookmark the websites. If you have iOS 11, you can scan the QR code with the built-in camera app. On Android, Google Goggles reads QR codes. Otherwise, download i-Nigma or another QR code reader. The app works on iOS, Android, Blackberry or Windows mobile devices

Mind Mapping Improves Learning

how to mindmap

What is Mind Mapping?

Mind Mapping lets you visually organize information using spatial organization and a hierarchical structure of main branches and sub-branches, which is a useful strategy for constructing knowledge. It helps people make sense of what they’re learning by building connections between concepts and ideas. Integrating multimedia strengthens the learning.

Benefits of Mind Mapping

benefits of mindmapping

  • Helps students organize ideas and understand concepts better
  • Non-sequential way of organizing information works better than linear methods for some students
  • Shows the whole as well as the parts
  • Can be an assistive tool for people who are visually minded
  • Benefits found by the Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education study, 2003
    • Improves reading comprehension
    • Enhances critical thinking and learning skills
    • Supports cognitive learning theory
    • Increases retention

Uses of Mind Mapping

  • Brainstorm
  • Visualise concepts
  • Improve critical thinking
  • Outline written documents
  • Storyboard presentations
  • Review notes

Rules for Mind Mapping in the Buzan Method

  • One word per branch
  • Length of the word is the length of the branch
  • Use colours and images where possible
  • Be clear in your printing and organization

How to Mind Map

How to Mind Map with Tony Buzan – Use this as a basis to create a list for your students, or co-create the list with your students by looking at an example of a mind map



Free Technology Tools

  • Lucidchart (web, iOS, Android, Chrome, free premium version for educators and students, K+ with a GApp account)
  • MeisterTask (webChrome, free unlimited maps, great for G4+ if using GApps)
  • Mindomo (web, iOS, Android, Chrome, up to 3 free maps, great for MS+)
  • Kidspiration (iOS free for 5 maps, great for K+)
  • Popplet (iOS allows one map, great for K+)
  • 7 Steps to Making a Mind Map

Visit the Tony Buzan website for 7 Steps to Making a Mind Map. You may want to use the list as inspiration to create your own steps for your classroom.


This was part of a longer workshop that I presented to some teachers in Prague on Dec. 4, 2017.