Thursday, December 8, 2016

This Would Have Made Me Cry...

...if I had read it in my earlier years of teaching.

Honestly? Probably just a few years ago, it would have brought me to tears. I love to ask students for feedback in my classes, what's working and what's not. Which activities, strategies, and resources were most helpful. Which were not. When students feel comfortable enough to be honest rather than feel like they have to write something to please me, that's the kind of feedback that helps the most.

This was recent feedback from one of my students this semester, and I've had a really tough time connecting with him. What would you have done?


In response to "what did you learn from this project": (to read about the project click here)

"I didn't learn anything. I just wasted time on it and I don't like to work as a team I prefer to do my work by myself.
The reason because I didn't learn anything; it's simple, the project wasn't interesting so I didn't effort on this but anyway I did part of our work.
I hope you be more inteligent when you gave us a work again Because I want to learn something good I don't want to be drawing that make no sense."

I figured I had two choices. I could get upset (READ: Cry BIG alligator tears!), or I could consider it a learning moment. Truth be told, I was impressed with this language learners attempt at writing more complex sentences! Then I looked again at what he was saying, and I (surprisingly) found myself thrilled at his honesty.

I talked to him about it one on one, and when I thanked him for his honesty, he was genuinely surprised and thought for sure I'd be upset. Then he opened up and talked about how hard it is for him to work in groups. He actually did enjoy the art piece of the project, but was so frustrated he didn't know how else to say it. It was an unexpected conversation, and one I walked away from all the richer. Our connection became one smidge closer.

#win

I know it would have brought me to angry tears years ago, but I realize how important student feedback has become in my instructional practice and growth.

If you've never tried it, here's a great post by Larry Ferlazzo where you can start for ideas, then tweak it to suit your own context. Use exit tickets, google forms, dot stickers, surveys, questions at the end of tests, and so on. Make some questions a little more on the fun side, and know that the first time you ask your students to respond, it may be a little nerve wracking! Prepare to laugh (what do I need to change for next year? "Ms. Wendi, you need new shoes"  might be one of my other top responses) and get your #realitycheck. But appreciate it, and make use of it. The formats for gathering information are endless--and so are the benefits.

Please, let me know what works best for you as you invite your students into the world of teacher evaluation!