“How Do I Teach?”

Taken from: M. Weimer, Joan L. Parrett and Mary-Margaret Kerns (2002), How do I teach? Forms and activities for acquiring instructional input, Madison: Atwood Publishing.


Interpretive concerns are not paramount to this endeavor. The goal is to discover the nuts and bolts that hold a particular teaching style together. The activity can be considered complete when an instructor is able to write a detailed description of his or her teaching style. Two tricks: the description can include “no” mention of content and “no” mention of physical characteristics like hair or eye color. The activity can be considered successful when the description is complete and accurate enough to allow identification of the instructor by someone else.

Recognize the almost automatic reaction of most instructors to judge behaviors. That is not the point now. Implicit in the questions on the form are not some pre-established criteria delineating what instructors ought to do. At this juncture, the objective is entirely descriptive. Discover what you do; then go about determining if it ought to be done differently.

Obviously, being aware of instructional behaviors is not the be-all and end•all of instructional development. Behaviors convey messages -important ones about attitudes, like enthusiasm, for example. So, instructors must, by various means, acquire input as to the impact of the behaviors they use. There are plenty of other forms in this catalogue designed especially to provide that input. But first, foremost, and most fundamentally, instructors must know how they teach.

Source: This instrument was developed by the authors. It may be copied, altered, or adapted by instructors using the form to acquire instructional input.


  1. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR HANDS? Gesture? Keep them in your pockets? Hold onto the podium? Play with the chalk or clicker? Hide them so students won’t see them shake?
  2. WHERE DO YOU STAND OR SIT? Behind the podium? On the table?
  3. WHEN DO YOU MOVE TO A DIFFERENT LOCATION? Never? At regular ten-second intervals? When you change topics? When you need to write something on the board? WHERE DO YOU MOVE? Back behind the podium? Out to the students? To the blackboard?
  4. WHERE DO YOUR EYES MOST OFTEN FOCUS? On your notes? On the board/screen? Out the window? On a spot on the wall in the back of the classroom? On the students? Could you tell who was in class today without having taken roll?
  5. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FINISH ONE CONTENT SEGMENT AND ARE READY TO MOVE ON TO THE NEXT? Say OK? Ask if there are any questions? Erase the board? Move to a different location? Make a verbal transition?
  6. WHEN DO YOU SPEAK LOUDER/SOFTER? When the point is very important? When nobody seems to understand? When nobody seems to be listening?
  7. WHEN DO YOU SPEAK FASTER/SLOWER? When an idea is important and you want emphasize it? When you are behind where you ought to be on the content? When students are asking questions you’re having trouble answering?
  8. DO YOU LAUGH OR SMILE IN CLASS? When? How often?
  9. HOW DO YOU USE EXAMPLES? How often do you include them? When do you include them?
  10. HOW DO YOU EMPHASIZE MAIN POINTS? Write them on the board/screen? Say them more than once? Ask the students if they understand them? Suggest ways they might be remembered?
  11. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN STUDENTS ARE INATTENTIVE? Ignore them? Stop and ask questions? Interject an anecdote? Point out the consequences of not paying attention? Move out toward them?
  12. DO YOU ENCOURAGE STUDENT PARTICIPATION? How? Do you call on students by name? Do you grade it? Do you wait for answers? Do you verbally recognize quality contributions? Do you correct student answers? On a typical day, how much time is devoted to student talk?
  13. HOW DO YOU BEGIN/END CLASS? With a summary and conclusion? With a preview and a review? With a gasp and a groan? With a bang and a whimper?