This winter, I set out to ascertain to what degree my teaching practices match my values. I like to think that I create rapport in my classroom, but I wanted to take a closer look. A study on the relative merits of various reflective observation tools (Fatemipour, 2013) ranked diaries as the most effective, followed be peer observation. I decided to keep a journal throughout the term and to ask a few colleagues (Larry Javorsky, Sandy Riverman, and Amy Nickerson) to observe me.

Before the term began, I decided on the format and content of the journal. Not all journal entries yield equally useful information; in years past, I might just have made notes of activities that happened and whether or not I subjectively deemed them successful, or I might have commented on procedural issues—timing, instructions, etc. This time, I wanted a bit of a deeper focus, going beyond what Insuasty and Zambrano Castillo (2010) label “how-to” questions. I brainstormed several values statements related to rapport, relationships, and participation. To keep the project doable and measurable, I limited myself to 10 yes/no statements, four based on students’ observed behavior and six on my own behavior. After class, I ticked “Yes” or “No” and wrote a few (usually brief) follow-up comments. The prompts were:  Continue reading