As we enter a new year, many of us will reflect on 2018 and resolve to do some things differently in 2019; continuing the 4,000 year old tradition of new year’s resolutions. These tend to be personal resolutions such as eating better, exercising more, and saving more money. While almost half of Americans will make a new year’s resolution, only 8% will actually keep it.
While working to improve our health and personal lives is certainly a good thing, what if we also consider making some professional resolutions for 2019? The alignment of a new calendar year with the beginning of a new semester provides a natural time to reflect on teaching. This might be small scale examining the fall semester and setting some goals for spring, or a broader reflection on the scope of your teaching career to this point and what it might look like going forward.
If you’ve never thought about what a new year’s resolution around teaching might look like, the UC Berkley Center for Teaching & Learning provides a list of examples—from learning students’ names to providing early feedback on student progress to finding a better balance between lecture and activities. Setting a resolution for teaching is not limited to the new year, but is part of a larger process referred to as reflective teaching.
Reflective teaching is simply self-assessing your teaching by examining your pedagogical choices, articulating reasons and strengths for your choices, and identifying areas for revision or improvement. This is often done during the process of updating your dossier or teaching portfolio. Sources for reflection may include reflection journals, self-report teaching inventories, observations of your course, and student comments provided on course evaluations.
If you are interested in learning an objective process for reflecting and acting on course evaluation data, consider registering for our upcoming workshop, Unpacking & Acting on your Course Evaluation on January 31, 2019. If you are unable to attend the workshop or would like to talk through your data one-on-one, contact the CITL to schedule an individual consultation. And for more information on reflective teaching, see Stephen Brookfield’s Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey Bass (2017).
Whether you pick a large or small resolution for your teaching in 2019, reflecting on your work in the classroom can set the stage for a productive and rewarding new semester. Good luck, and let us know how we can help.