Teaching self audit

Part of developing self-knowledge as a teacher is coming to see what and how we are learning about teaching.

Teachers may say they are not learning anything in their work and that things stay pretty much the same year in and year out. However, when they reply to questions expressly designed to probe how they have changed in the last twelve months, many are surprised at how much has happened to them.

The teacher learning self-audit is a reflective tool that focuses specifically on encouraging teachers to view themselves as adult learners. The self-audit is usually completed each semester or on an annual basis. Using the audit, teachers are helped to identify the skills, knowledge, and insights they have developed in the recent past. To complete your own self-audit use the following guide.

Your teacher learning self-audit

Think back over the past term/year in your life as a teacher and complete the following sentences as honestly as you can.

  • compared with this time last term/year, I know that
  • compared with this time last term/year, I am now able to
  • compared with this time last term/year, I could now teach a colleague how to
  • the most important thing I have learned about my students in the past term/year is
  • the most important thing I have learned about my teaching in the past term/year is
  • the assumptions I had about teaching and learning that have been most confirmed for me in the past term/year are
  • the assumptions I had about teaching and learning that have been most challenging for me in the past term/year are that.

As you read through your responses to these open-ended statements, you can start sorting them by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • Do you describe your learning primarily in cognitive or in emotional tones?
  • Do you speak mainly about the development of personal insight or of psychomotor, instrumental accomplishments?
  • How much of the learning you identify focuses on extra pedagogic matters, such as the art of political survival or developing support networks?
  • How much of your learning is in an entirely new area, and how much is a refinement, rethinking, or adaptation of something you already know or can do?
  • Is the learning you report of no great significance, or does some of it appear to be transformative?
  • How much of your learning confirms existing practices and assumptions, and how much challenges your typical ways of thinking and teaching?
  • Try to think about how you learned whatever you have identified:
    • Did you learn through your involvement with a group team effort, or in a self-directed way?
    • Was conversation with others important, or did you learn through print or visual media (for example, video, social media, journals)?
    • To what extent was your learning serendipitous and to what extent was it planned?
    • What triggered each of your learnings?
    • Was it a crisis, a directive from some external source, a personal feeling of dissatisfaction with your present practice, a desire to experiment for the fun of it, your identification of a gap to be filled or a discrepancy to be resolved, a chance event, or some other cause?
    • What methods did you use: trial-and-error experimentation, personal reflection, observation of colleagues, private individual study, or something else?

Reading your responses has several potential benefits for you.

  • first, it gets you into the habit of thinking about yourself as a 'learner about teaching' something we all need to do if we are to stay engaged in our work
  • second, it helps you become aware of just how much learning you are already undertaking in an informal and incidental way
  • third, you get a more accurate sense of how you change and learn as a teacher. Knowing this, helps you decide how best to use the time and funds you have for your own development. You can make a more informed decision about the knowledge and skills you need to work on in your practice.

Adapted from: Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher.