Becoming a Better Teacher: Are You Recognizing Your Weaknesses?

Janelle Cox
Janelle Cox
M.S. in Education
A teacher sits at a table and writes something down while looking through her tablet.

You’ve probably never thought about what you lack as an educator until you were asked the “What are your weaknesses?” question in an interview. This question, that’s usually followed by, “What do you do to overcome them?” can be quite difficult to answer. No one wants to think about what they lack in their career. However, being aware of your weaknesses as well as having the ability to self-reflect, is a great way to help you overcome them and become a better teacher.

Finding Your Weakness to Improve Upon

If your goal is to grow and become a better teacher, you must take a moment to figure out what aspects of yourself and your career as an educator you are weak in. Once you learn what those are, you can then do away with them and learn to focus more on your strengths as a teacher.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can identify your weaknesses and how to become better and improve over time:

Ask Someone to Observe You

The first step to figuring out your weaknesses is asking someone. This can be difficult for many people because you’re going to have to sit and have someone pick apart your work. However, you must remember you are doing this to help you grow as a teacher so must be ready to listen to constructive criticism.

Invite a colleague or a mentor to observe you in your classroom. Ask them to fill out an observation checklist, just as you would if your supervisor was observing you. This will help them give you specific feedback in multiple areas. If possible, ask multiple people to observe you so you can get a range of different opinions. The more feedback you get, the more you’ll learn about yourself. For example, when I was observed as a student teacher, I learned I only taught to the students in the front of the classroom. I also learned that I was too soft-spoken and didn’t command the classroom. While I didn’t realize I was doing this at the time, after my observation, I was able to change my behavior and, over time, gain confidence.

Give Up Your Weak Habits

You may be unaware but some of your weaknesses may be out of habit. For example, when I was observed I learned that I always compared students to one another. After some self-reflection, I realized that this was something I did both in and outside of the classroom, it was a habit that I was completely unaware of. I learned from this feedback that we don’t really know or understand what others are going through when they aren’t in our classroom. Just because one student may be lazy and not want to do the work doesn’t mean that all students that aren’t doing the work are lazy, they may have something going on at home.

Take some time to sit and think about how you behave as a teacher. Ask yourself, “What is my behavior like when I am in the classroom? What is it like when I am outside of the classroom?” “Is it different?” Write down anything that you think may be considered a weak habit as well as how you can go about changing that.

Gain a Different Perspective

Sometimes all it takes to figure out your weakness as a teacher is to simply gain a different point of view, and who better to ask than your students! If you think about it, your students are the ones who see you every day and as you know they have a lot of opinions. While they may not be as educated as a teacher or have the foresight, they do know what works for them and what does not. If you don’t want them to hold back, then ask them to write down their thoughts anonymously. Not only is this a great way to get unfiltered feedback that you may not have received if they had their name on it, but it will also help you from thinking differently towards a student if they shared feedback that you found hurtful or offensive.

Jot Down What You Can Improve

Create a list of things that you are not good at or that you don’t enjoy doing in the classroom. The reason for this is that usually, the things that you don’t like to do are also the things that you’re weak at. If you constantly procrastinate the same thing every single day this is a signal that it’s something you need to work on. To help you improve at these things, try taking one weakness from your list to work on each week. Eventually, with patience and time, it’ll get easier.

While discovering your weaknesses may not sound like much fun, it’s a great way to help you better understand yourself as a person as well as grow as a teacher. Once you discover your weaknesses, you can reach out to your colleagues who are good in those areas and learn from them. When you try your best to turn your weaknesses into strengths, not only will you benefit, but your students will as well.

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