Asking yourself and your head and colleagues the right question, is the first step in trying to grow your teaching career. In this month’s Ilm o Amal, TRC staff looks at what questions to ask to begin your process of growth.

Want to grow and develop further in the institution where you are teaching? How you are perceived as a teacher in your school may be more important than you realise. If you want to grow in your profession this year and in the future, the beginning of the academic year is the best time to start.

Start laying the foundation for your growth by evaluating yourself as a teacher. Begin by doing a personal audit. This may seem contradictory, but it is not easy to pinpoint our own flaws. We are all inherently biased and cannot spot our own mistakes and weaknesses. However, attempting this is a first step in the direction of your growth.
You can start the process of personal growth by asking the following 3 questions.

1. What Can I Improve?

For the purpose of growth, this question will help give you insight into the area you need to put more effort in. It will also help you identify if you need to change the way you have been approaching a particular area of your work. For instance, a colleague could point out that you get late when it comes to responding to emails. You may want to do some introspection to understand why this happens and how you can improve your communication skills with email or outside of emails.

After you receive feedback from your colleagues about the area you can improve, you should set about making that an area of focus for yourself. You should demonstrate that you are paying attention to the feedback you have received and take, making the improvements an important part of your growth. Ask for advice and help in making the changes. Contrary to the general perception, when you ask for advice or help it makes you seem stronger, rather than weaker.

2. How Would You Describe my Work Style?

Begin the second step of this exercise by asking yourself this question. The significance of asking yourself this question is to eventually compare your own answers with those of your direct head and colleagues. Sometimes there is a big gap between how others see you and how you see yourself. Eventually, how your head or your colleagues see you is what matters the most, because they will be deciding important matters such as promotions and raises.

This may sound unfair and people’s perceptions may not be totally accurate, however this is how the real world works. You may be working very hard behind the scenes preparing lesson plans or planning classroom activities, but if you aren’t able to implement them as well as you would like, then that is all that people will see.  They might see you as a sloppy worker which may be far from the truth. They might even assume that you aren’t very thorough with your work. We are often judged on the final output, such as how well a lesson was delivered, rather than the work that went into preparing it.

3. What Skills Do I Need?

Where do you need to go in your career and what skills do you need to reach there? This is the question you need to ask yourself, your head, and your colleagues. Think about where you want to go in your career and what skills you are lacking, that are stopping you from getting there. If you’ve got your eyes on a particular position, see if you can cultivate a relationship with the person who is in that position. Ask her what the most challenging parts of her position are, and if she recommends that you work on a particular skill make a note to do that. For some positions, you may be required to learning something technical, for others it could simply be improving your leadership or communication skills. By asking this person this question, you’ll be signaling to them that you are looking to take on more responsibility. It will also tell them that you take personal development very seriously.

Asking as many people as you can about their opinion of you will help you build a fairly accurate picture of how you are perceived at work. Of course the more feedback you can get, the better it is, however try not to get too stuck on any negative feedback that you may receive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is worth remembering that all feedback is helping you to grow and improve.

August 2018