You know that time towards the end of the school year, where you start dreaming about your next class and all the things you will do better next year?
The more I teach, the more I am concentrating not so much on what I do, but on the impact of my actions on students’ learning and wellbeing. So, I start thinking about the way I want my students in my class to learn and to feel. To do this, I ask them.
Every term, I get my class to review me as a teacher. I give them a series of questions and ask them to give some honest feedback about myself, and about the environment I create in the class, and the way they feel within it. It sometimes feels risky and vulnerable to open myself up to whatever they may say but it is actually very rewarding and insightful to see their responses.
I get a lot of honest, thoughtful feedback from this every time I do it. I get to hear what I’m doing well (“She is good at being positive and explaining things.”), what’s not working well (“You could improve on using a little less paper.”), and compare what I think is happening in the class to actual student perceptions about the same things.
What should I get feedback on?
This is up to what you. What do you NEED feedback on? Is it instructional strategies? Is it your ability to engage? Is it your process and procedure-related?
Some of the questions and responses I ask for are:
- What does Emily do well?
- What could Emily improve on?
- “I feel like Emily challenges me to learn more” rating 1-5
- “I feel excited and engaged in our class” rating 1-5
- “Most of the time, Emily makes me feel…happy/listened to/angry/bored etc.” multiple choice answers
- My favourite thing I learnt this month/term/year was… because…
- My most challenging task/project this term was… because…
- For me to learn best, I need… (provide some options or leave it open ended)
You could choose your own questions and prompts based on your own focuses. For example, in 2017 I tried eliminating ‘hands up’ in my class in the final term, so I asked students for feedback on how they felt it went.
Some tips if you plan to do this (and you definitely should):
- Do it more than once in a year, and use some of the same questions each time to track your own progress.
- Allow for students to be specific by including some long-answer responses. Don’t just use multiple choice or scales.
- Make all responses anonymous. This takes away the implications of the student writing the comments and simply allows you to hear their message. (It takes away the tendency to say things like “Oh, that kid always says things like that, that doesn’t count). It also allows some students to be more honest, which is essential.
- Use a digital tool like Google Forms or Nearpod to further allow for anonymity, and to make it simpler to get a range of feedback, like scales, multiple choice and long answers.
- This year, after being inspired by another teacher at my school, I framed this evaluation as a report, because I had just written and sent home my student’s end of year reports. You might like to do the same.
- See one of my previous feedback forms here.
What to do after the feedback
- Be prepared for honesty. You will get it.
- Celebrate the things to be proud of!
- Take on the feedback. Consider it. Plan for change. No, really – actually make a plan.
- Become a better teacher for having listening to what your students need from you.