Saturday, June 28, 2014

How My Students Rated Me This Year

End of the year reviews from my administrators? Yep. They matter. I've gotta say, though, I'm a pretty reflective teacher, and I inevitably end up with an entire page of things on my own that I'd like to improve upon in the upcoming year. Chances are, I will have beat my admin to the critical punch, but I appreciate the insights from another lens.

What really have made a difference for me are the reviews from my students, which I will share in just a moment. First, I'd love to send a shout-out to a virtual colleague and mentor I admire: Larry Ferlazzo encouraged me years ago to take my year-end student feedback a step further, which I did. This year marks the first time I'm taking it public, though!

With elementary students, it's a fine balance to encourage their critique without feeding them ideas. The relationships built with them throughout the year helps them understand the need for honesty, too. We do several mini-ratings throughout the year, when they have the chance to practice being honest with how they are feeling and the extent to which an activity was academically useful. Of course, they are 8 and 9 year olds, so while they have a knack for keeping things real for you, some of their answers will delight and entertain you.

If you ask for, and encourage honesty, you should be ready for it. ;-)

So, here's how the feedback form is set up: (Again, thank you, Larry, as several of these elements are modified from your ideas)

  • A list of activities that are common in our class (differing each year)--rated on a scale of 1, 2, or 3, with one being the lowest, and 3 the highest. 2 is obviously in the middle. 
  • The first time these activities are listed, students are asked how much they like them. 1=hated it, 3=loved it. Examples include: reading in class, when Ms. Wendi does interactive read-alouds, writing extended responses to questions, meeting other students via technology (Skype, hangout, blogging, etc.), reading at home, playing games, drawing visuals, and when Ms. Wendi creates visuals.
  • The second time these activities are listed, students are asked how much they learned from these activities. 1=you didn't learn much from it, 3=you learned a lot from it.
  • They were then asked to rate me, again with 1, 2, or 3--1=ooh, needs some help, 2=alright, 3=awesome ;-).
  • Other questions asked about the pace of the class, whether they would be interested in having me as a teacher again, and 2 things I could do to be a better teacher next year. 
Results: (drumroll!) (Donning thick skin!)

(I feel it is useful to read it all aloud because of my students' language proficiency levels. Of course, you may choose not to.)

The least liked activities were: reading at home, writing extended responses, and reading in class. Other activities that had a handful of 2's: games and drawing visuals. 
All other activities were rated with 3's.

About half responded with all 3's for how much they learned from the activities. Those who claimed otherwise, rated reading at home and playing games (surprisingly honest!) the lowest. Writing responses to questions came in a close third. The plusses and smiles came with their ratings for when I create visuals!

The areas I need to work on most? According to my little experts, I talk too much and need to work on class discipline, although the pace of the class is "just right". Points taken--although this is where the proof  lies for me in the value of these surveys--it really makes me think of when I talked "too much" and how to tweak my instruction and management accordingly. Makes for far deeper reflection than any administrative eval, at least for me. 

A couple of other 2's told me I could be more patient, fair, and friendly. At the same time, I also had notes in the margin for "be more nice", "asome saus", A-, and "All 3's". It's helpful to know they believe I know what I'm doing, am organized, prepared, and work hard. But I know I also need to work on getting to know them better, earlier--and yes, I need to temper my expectations in a friendlier ("nicer") way, and express frustrations calmly. (which I thought I tried hard to do--but like I said, kids will keep it real for you!) 

And the final question? 2 things I can do to be a better teacher next year? Well, let me give you a sampling. :-)
  • give more hugs more often
  • keep trying good
  • don't be mean
  • make them all read
  • be nice
  • do better in writing, reading, "tung twisted"
  • do more activities
  • more poetry and nice
  • learn from kids
  • give more things
  • love more people
  • be nice and keep help people
  • read us more books
  • teach us Spanish
  • give us free candy
  • give us lots of hugs
  • read better (hmmm?)
  • she so cool
  • she can be cool and happy
  • shut everybody's mouth
  • how to talk in Spanish
  • give us notebooks 
  • give us free pencils
So, you get the idea. Honest, and although basic, you can see where the concerns of the kids lie. And again, their comments get in my head to serve as superior reflective catalysts. 

But, the kicker this year? Apparently I was focusing my efforts in the very wrong place, as evidenced by some final pieces of advice. :-)

And yep, definitely saved the best for last here:
  • "geting new shose"
  • "find a men"
  • "put make up"
Kids, thank you for definitely keeping things real for me!  

Don't forget to be awesome this summer!
Ms. Wendi


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