The number of public school teachers has grown in the past decade, the National Center for Education Statistics reports: A comparison between the 2011-12 and 2020-21 academic years reveals an 11 percent increase. However, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there are teacher shortages in approximately three-quarters of U.S. states. During the pandemic, between 2019 and 2021, 7 percent of public school teachers decided to leave the profession, further exacerbating the challenge, the GAO reports.

Despite the many difficulties they face, teachers remain dedicated to providing the best education possible to their students. As teachers seek to nurture their students’ curiosity and creativity, teacher self-assessments emerge as a valuable practice that can benefit everyone. These reflective exercises, combined with pursuing an advanced education in inclusive instruction, can empower educators to gauge their effectiveness in the classroom.

What Is a Teacher Self-Assessment?

A teacher self-assessment is a tool that a teacher can use to measure their teaching performance against their goals. The process often involves answering questions about their teaching methods and what impact they have on student learning.

Questions may focus on key elements of teaching practice, such as:

  • Am I creating a conducive learning environment?
  • How is my teaching practice facilitating student-centered learning?
  • What enrichment activities am I offering? Are they encouraging open discussions?

A teacher self-assessment may involve collecting and analyzing relevant evidence, for example, student work samples or questionnaire responses.

Since objectivity is key in self-assessments, teachers use specific criteria to assess the effectiveness of their teaching practice. Another key is to be straightforward and honest when answering questions. Self-assessments are best conducted in a setting conducive to reflection, whether that’s at home, in a classroom after school hours, or in a quiet space of choice.

Different Types of Teacher Self-Assessments

A teacher self-assessment can be approached in any of a number of different ways. A common practice is for teachers to observe themselves through video recordings. This approach can help them rate their own effectiveness in delivering instruction, engaging students and managing the classroom.

In another example, teachers compile a portfolio containing lesson plans and sample materials. Teachers could include a collection of work that showcases their growth, reflections, achievements and evidence of development. Teachers can then refer to these materials when they set goals for the future as well.

Teacher self-assessments can also include activities such as journaling. Teachers can record their experiences throughout a school year — both good and bad — and then review their notes at the end of the year. This approach can provide insights into what was effective and what could be improved upon.

A teacher’s self-assessment can include observation from peers as well. In this approach, teachers ask their colleagues, typically more experienced teachers, to observe them in their classroom. This can lead to constructive feedback and new ideas that can help teachers improve their teaching practice and their students’ educational outcomes.

These self-assessment approaches can empower teachers to gain insights, identify growth areas and improve their overall effectiveness.

The Benefits of Self-Assessment

Teacher self-assessments provide a systematic approach to building new skills, which can help teachers become more competitive and position themselves for better pay. Of course, many criteria influence teacher salaries, and there are variances in teacher salaries by state as well.

By engaging in a self-assessment, teachers can gain insights into their teaching methods and strategies, which can enable them to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to improve student outcomes.

Teacher self-assessments offer numerous other benefits for educators as well, such as the following:

  • They can uncover challenges and skills teachers may have overlooked or not fully recognized. A deep exploration of their teaching practice can illuminate areas for further development.
  • They can help teachers identify pressing problems. For example, teachers might recognize the need to prioritize certain important issues for students, leading them to work with an instructional coordinator to address specific concerns through targeted solutions and improvements.
  • They can allow teachers to delve into specific aspects of their teaching practice. Teachers can move beyond the jargon, such as “good performance,” to come up with concrete evaluations of their instructional performance.

Another benefit of teacher self-assessments is that they allow teachers to make informed decisions, implement effective strategies and be honest with themselves about what’s working in the classroom. Making an effort to conduct self-assessments also demonstrates a teacher’s willingness to improve, their commitment to pursuing teaching excellence and their desire to achieve professional growth.

Teacher Self-Assessment vs. Traditional Evaluations: What’s Different?

Teacher self-assessments and traditional evaluations may be different, but they both can play an important role in teachers’ professional development. Self-assessment is a personalized, reflective approach. The source of the evaluation is the teacher themselves. In other words, teachers consider their own teaching practice to judge their strengths and weaknesses and identify areas for improvement.

Self-assessments are also voluntary and tend to be informal. Teachers may choose to ask their peers to observe them in class for the purpose of self-improvement.

On the other hand, traditional evaluations are based on the perspectives of school administrators or teachers’ supervisors. Unlike a self-assessment, a traditional evaluation is a formal process that relies on standardized criteria, accountability measures and observation protocols defined by a school district.

Teacher self-assessments empower teachers to practice autonomy in setting goals and creating action plans for improvement. In contrast, traditional evaluations are typically a requirement imposed by a supervisor or external authority such as a school district administrator. This approach may limit a teacher’s ability to shape the evaluation process.

Combining these two approaches can provide a comprehensive and well-rounded evaluation of a teacher’s performance and professional growth.

Self-Assessment Tools

Teachers can use any of various tools for their self-assessments, including self-reflection, surveys and questionnaires. For instance, they can use rubrics containing checklists that outline teaching criteria. Before the start of the school year, the teacher develops a checklist to measure areas such as planning, lesson content, classroom organization, instruction delivery, student engagement and classroom management. Throughout the year, they rate themselves and identify areas for improvement.

Teachers can also use readily available self-assessment tools that offer structured frameworks. These tools pose questions that cover aspects of teaching such as subject matter knowledge, planning skills and effectiveness in delivering instruction. Teachers assess themselves and receive personalized feedback. For example, the American Institutes for Research offers teachers a self-assessment tool to help them reflect on their teaching practices that support social and emotional learning for students.

Another teacher self-assessment method is collaboration with others. As such, a teacher can ask their students about the students’ perception of what’s being taught, the classroom environment, their level of engagement and their level of satisfaction. Students can share their feedback through a survey or questionnaire the teacher provides.

Advance Your Teaching Career

Teacher self-assessments can unlock teachers’ potential to advance in their careers. They can help teachers overcome challenges and harness their strengths. They are a powerful tool that can empower lifelong learning, enabling teachers to adapt to challenges, stay ahead of the curve and embrace the latest teaching practices.

Teachers with a growth mindset and a commitment to continuous improvement can further enhance their careers by advancing their education. Augusta University Online’s Master of Education in Instruction program offers a curriculum focused on classroom management, pedagogical theory, assessment analysis and curriculum design. The program focuses on preparing teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to foster inclusive and student-focused learning environments.

Learn more about how the program can help you reach your professional goals as a teacher.

Recommended Readings
What Can You Do With a Master of Education?

Abeka, Teacher Self-Evaluation
American Institutes for Research, Self-Assessing Social and Emotional Instruction and Competencies: A Tool for Teachers
Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, Teacher Leadership: Self-Assessment and Readiness Tools
Education Week, “The Status of the Teaching Profession Is at a 50-Year Low. What Can We Do About It?”
EF, “Why This One Habit Can Transform Your Teaching”
National Center for Education Statistics, Characteristics of Public School Teachers
National Education Association, NEA Teacher Evaluation and Accountability Toolkit
SafetyCulture, “Teacher Evaluation Methods for Effective Quality Teaching”
U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Pandemic Learning: Less Academic Progress Overall, Student and Teacher Strain, and Implications for the Future”

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