Teaching is one of the professions where you never know for sure – there is no concrete evidence to support your assumptions about your success or failure. Well, yes, there are test scores, grades, and the like, but sometimes one feels good regardless of bad test results and despite low scores. So what are the ways of measuring instructional effectiveness?
From my experience, most teachers have a kind of ‘barometer’ of teaching effectiveness. They have this intuition that tells them whether their lesson went well or badly. This subjective tool becomes more and more powerful in the course of time. In other words, our barometer becomes more precise as we become more experienced. It helps us ‘feel’ things; for example, we can feel whether there is a good atmosphere in the class, whether our activities are enjoyable, whether our students are interested and tuned in to what other people are saying. Sometimes we can feel that we lost our students’ attention at a certain point of the lesson, that we made a mistake in classroom management or in our lesson plan. But very often something unidentifiable happens and the glow of satisfaction never comes. On the contrary, a feeling of imbalance prevails and we desperately want to regain harmony. So we reflect, analyze and ponder, weak and weary. If we are lucky, we have colleagues or our PLN who listen to us. And each time they do so our barometers reset.
It happens that I feel neutral after a lesson. I just leave the classroom without any particular emotions. My barometer reads zero. A few minutes later I come back to collect something I forgot on the desk and I find a scribble on the board. At first I’m a bit disappointed that the kids haven’t cleaned the board but when I look closely I can read the following sign: ‘We enjoy learning English‘. And at that moment a feeling of happiness floods in and the position of the indicator hand of my barometer changes rapidly; the pressure goes up and my energy level is high again. I think: ‘Wow, it’s great to be a teacher!’