Another thing that all excellent teachers do is reflect critically on every teaching session that they conduct with a view to thinking of specific ways in which it might have been improved - and thus can be improved next time round. One way of doing this is to maintain a personal reflective log of the type discussed in the previous section.
The teaching evaluation scheme developed in The Robert Gordon University made use of both these techniques (Ellington and Ross, 1997). It incorporated a set of standards, specifying detailed criteria for effective performance as a tertiary-level teacher. Staff made use of a four-point scale to rate their performance against each of these, being required to cite supporting evidence of some sort if they rated themselves on the ‘high’ half of the scale. If they rated themselves on the ‘low’ half, no evidence was required, since mere recognition of the fact - and of the implicit need for improved performance - was regarded as sufficient.
Guidance on how to set about improving your performance as a tertiary-level teacher in a systematic and effective way can again be found in the booklet on ‘Developing a Personal Development Programme’ (Ellington and Earl, 1997) and in ‘A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’ (Fry et.al., 1999b).
Golden Rule 7 : Keep yourself up-to-date
The author’s seventh and final piece of advice to aspiring excellent teachers is to try to keep abreast of the latest developments - and to put these into practice in your own teaching wherever possible.
The key to this process is a commitment to continuing professional development (CPD) - reading books and articles, attending conferences and seminars, and generally taking an interest in what is happening to your profession (being a regular reader of this journal is a good starting point!)
Needless to say, it is absolutely vital to keep up to date with the latest developments in C & IT if you want to be an excellent teacher. New delivery systems such as multimedia and the Internet are currently revolutionising tertiary education. Use these to your advantage; if you do not, you will soon be left behind by those who do!
Guidance on how to plan and implement your own CPD programme can again be found in the booklet on ‘Developing a Personal Development Programme’ (Ellington and Earl, 1997). The Green Paper on CPD produced by the Universities’ and Colleges Staff Development Agency (UCoSDA, 1994b) also provides very helpful advice, and does the chapter on ‘Continuing Professional Development’ in ‘A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’ (Partington, 1999).