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Give it a go

Sue Cowley offers practical advice on managing your class and delivering your lessons.

DEVELOP YOUR SELF-EVALUATION SKILLS

As you head towards the end of your first school year, hopefully you're feeling more confident about your classroom management skills. You will have been observed several times and received positive feedback, as well as constructive criticism. At this stage, it can be useful to try out some self-evaluations; it's a skill that will stand you in good stead for monitoring your progress.

* Evaluate some lessons in detail: Choose a couple of lessons over the next few weeks for self-evaluation - one that you find relatively easy and another that has caused problems. Sit down after the lesson and think through what went well and what might have worked better. Where you had successful moments, try to work out why these parts of the lesson were effective so that you can aim to repeat them. Similarly, if you had problems, try to establish what caused them.

* Learn to reflect as you teach: The most effective teachers have the ability to perform a process of continuous self-evaluation and reflection while they are teaching. They are also able to adapt or completely change a lesson while it's taking place. This is a tricky skill to learn, but once you've got it, it can help you turn the most disastrous lesson around. It's a case of constantly monitoring the mood of the class and their responses to you and your teaching; having an awareness of how what you say or do is coming across. Have you explained the tasks properly? Do the pupils understand what they're meant to be doing? These kinds of questions should be running through your head as you teach.

* Watch yourself in action: If you're brave, video a lesson to see how you come across to your pupils. It can feel embarrassing to watch yourself in action, but it is instructive. As you watch, pick up on any mannerisms that you have which might distract from your teaching and aim to clamp down on them.

* Ask for pupil feedback: Your pupils know you and your teaching best: they see you in action and suffer the consequences if a lesson goes wrong.

Approach a couple of trustworthy pupils and ask them for feedback. Perhaps you talk louder than is necessary; or you don't explain tasks as well as you might? Feedback can aid you in developing as a teacher.

* Give yourself a pat on the back: In the midst of all your evaluations, don't forget to praise yourself for all the progress you've made. It's daunting to stand in front of a class and teach - looking at how well you've done will help you feel more confident for the future.

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