Faculty members can keep a journal recording their reflections on teaching. They might keep this on a daily basis or make entries only when an experience causes them to reflect. Whether they make regular or occasional entries, the journal will only be useful if they occasionally try to organize their thoughts into themes or categories. Here software designed for qualitative researchers (e.g. The Ethnograph v5.0) or free online weblogs (e.g. Blogger, LiveJournal, xanga) provide valuable tools for those who create their journals electronically.
Although teaching portfolios are considerable more structured than teaching journals, their usefulness is found in the reflection on teaching that is the core component. Teaching portfolios require a great deal of planning and take time to complete. However, once a faculty completes an initial portfolio, he or she has a detailed plan for the improvement of her or his teaching. Peter Seldin offers suggestions on the content faculty might include in The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/tenure Decisions, an excerpt of which can be found here. Another valuable resource on the topic is Preparing a Teaching Portfolio.
There are a number of teaching inventories that help us identify our assumptions and values. Many can be accessed on-line. Teaching Goals Inventory by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross is one of the best and can be found at several web sites including http://www.uiowa.edu/~centeach/tgi/index.html. A published version can be found in their book Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Faculty .
Teaching autobiographies ask teachers to write a narrative that describes their evolutions as a teacher. How did they learn to teach? Who were their role models? What changes have they made over time? What drove their decision-making process? When we attempt to explain ourselves in writing, we are forced to uncover and examine our assumptions.
These were also developed by Angelo and Cross (Angelo & Cross, 1993) and are quite useful in gathering data about our teaching. If we take the time to reflect on the data, we can learn a lot about our teaching.
The participant identifies a single incident from work and how he or she dealt with it, and then critically reflects on it and analyzes its meaning, consequences, and how she or he might do things differently.