California Educator

August 2016

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Spencer Erickson regularly asks students to evaluate his teaching style; inset is a sample response. During a recent AP calculus lesson at Dougherty High School, Dan Fruzzetti placed his cellphone in his shirt pocket and hit "record." Later, he listened to the audio of himself teaching and especially tuned in to students' responses. The San Ramon Valley Education Association member realized he wasn't giving students enough time to process some of the math problems, and sometimes he interrupted them. He also noticed that his pacing was a bit too fast, and the focus of his class was lost a few times when he allowed students to redirect his lesson by telling jokes. He realized that his perception of what was happening while he was teaching differed from his perception aer hearing the recording. "When I transitioned the group into their student-led activity, I thought at the time it was going wonderfully," he explains. "However, from the record- ing, I realized the activity would probably have been more powerful if I had assigned group roles, asked students to own the clock more, and given students a greater choice in content and how to present their material." Next time, he will consider turning the exercise into a two-day lesson. "The beauty of reflecting is that I can annotate my lesson plan and adjust my presentation for next time," he says. "My students benefit from that." If you want an honest opinion, ask a student. You quickly learn the truth about what you do well and what you need to do better, says Spencer Erickson , a Spanish teacher at Gale Ranch Mid- dle School. He regularly asks students to express their opinions on his teaching style as part of their writing assignments. "I ask questions such as: What am I doing that's helping you? What could I improve upon? Most have really good sugges- tions," says Erickson, San Ramon Valley Education Association. Some students say they love the class and he shouldn't change a thing. Others have asked him to slow things down a bit. "The class moves a little fast sometimes, but I should work more on paying attention," writes a student, also taking the opportunity for reflection. "I do tend to go a little fast when I teach, and it's hard for some students," admits Erickson. "For me, it's about balancing. I want to get through the material, make sure that students understand it, and not be boring." Reflection, muses Erickson, is also a balancing act. "Because I'm brutally honest and a perfectionist by nature, I can sometimes be too hard on myself. But I also try to celebrate the things that I do well, such as being fun and well-organized. For me, personal reflection is the most important thing you can do in any job — especially teaching." 27 R E C O R D Y O U R S E L F 28 A S K S T U D E N T S F O R F E E D B A C K 25 August 2016

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