How We Get Better: It’s Up to Us!

- Wednesday, August 19, 2020
kids practicing teamwork

Each of us are born with natural talents. When we practice them, remarkable things can happen, and we can truly inspire others. It is our deliberate focus on practice and knowing how to improve that makes us better. We can make Extension better when we invest in ourselves (through practice) and in others by helping them know how to improve with constructive, helpful feedback and coaching.

One of the many things I love about Extension is that we have countless opportunities to practice and help others get better, from convening and facilitating to more formal instruction (expect more posts on the various ways we engage in the future). When presented with opportunities that can be evaluated via a structured approach, we can use the Evaluation of Effective Extension Teaching (EEET) tool. And when we have a peer (or peers) available, we can invite them to provide constructive, helpful feedback and coaching through the formal Peer Evaluation of Teaching letter format.

The EEET system is coordinated by the Extension Learning and Organizational Development (LOD) team led by Teresa McCoy. A variety of forms are available for download and provisions have been made to enable evaluation of your online teaching events too. I encourage you to try this formal approach to feedback on your virtual/online Extension teaching if you have not already. Simply request this through LOD several days in advance of your event and provide (if possible, but not required) names and email addresses of your program participants. You can learn more here. I am excited about the improvements to the EEET system currently being discussed and hope to report more on that in the coming months.

OSU’s Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) requires peer evaluation of teaching. Each unit describes their process for peer evaluation of teaching in their OAA-approved APT document. One thing I’ve learned in studying this over the past year is that we have a variety of references to our formal Peer Evaluation of Teaching approach – and as you might imagine, these references are not all consistent! For example, are one or two letters required annually? Should peers be of higher rank or is the same rank okay? Can my supervisor serve as my peer reviewer or not?

How we approach our responsibility to get better is up to us. Similarly, our approach to evaluating each other (i.e. peer evaluation of teaching) is up to us. The peer evaluation approach we decide upon will be described in our APT document and shared systemwide. Leading this effort is high on my to-do list. If you have thoughts or suggestions to make this work better, please let me know.

Remember, our goal is to get better.

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