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It is important for teachers to get feedback from knowledgeable observers. A good supervisor will help you elevate your practice, hone the skills that are already sharp, and identify the areas where you have allowed lax habits to seep in.

Even the best supervisors can only visit a few times a year. Having peers watch us work is helpful, but making that happen is often a logistical challenge. We could videotape the lesson and watch it later, but that too is often complicated and time-consuming.

We often forget the team of observers that is readily available: our students. Ask your students regularly to tell you how you are doing. They’ll tell you. In excruciating detail.

Even better, do what a colleague of mine did the other day, perhaps without even realizing what would result: Ask your students to teach. It was fascinating to watch as students took on the persona of the teacher, then walked around the room, shushing other children, gesturing, and explaining. We saw, in sometimes frighteningly accurate mimicry, the precise methods and mannerisms that the teacher uses on a regular basis.

If you really want to find out what you do well—and will dare to find out what you don’t—put your students in the front of the classroom.

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