First, I’m trying to identify my awful lessons or units so that I can rework them over the summer. For example, I set as a goal to take the most boring lesson or unit from one year and making it epic next year. Last year’s most boring lesson, my PSAT prep unit, came back from the dead this year when I dressed as a zombie and created World War Z-themed zombie prep. (I think an awesome teacher can make any content cool and interesting.)
Second, I want to understand firsthand what kids love and what they hate. They need to watch me level up from year to year, because they have to level up, too. I’d like to share how I gather that information.
1. End-of-Year Focus Groups
I end the year with students in a circle. I turn on the audio recorder in Evernote to capture the conversation, which goes something like this.
2. End-of-Year Survey
I do an anonymous end-of-year survey as well (particularly if a class was reticent in the focus group time). You could adapt this and send it to parents for feedback. I do this in Google Forms and like to use open-ended answers for several of the questions.
3. Anonymous Notes
I always make a point to tell every student that they can type or write their feedback and put it on my desk any time. I suggest that you invite anonymous notes, because sometimes students want to tell you important things but don’t want to be a “snitch.” That’s why the last day of the year is the best time for this type of note — no repercussions and total honesty. One year, I found out that some kids had been dishonest, and the next year I changed how I administered a certain test to end cheating.
Why You Must Reflect and Improve
Students are what we do. They are the center of our classroom, not us. However, as a teacher, I am the most impactful single person in the classroom. Honest feedback from our students will help me level up.
I’ve been doing this for more than ten years. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry — and sometimes I’m mortified. But I can honestly say that every single piece of feedback I’ve received has made me a better teacher. And great teachers are never afraid of having or inviting hard conversations. This is one of best practices that has helped me to be a better, more excited teacher every year.
Read the entire article by Vicki Davis on Edutopia at http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-feedback-improves-your-teaching-vicki-davis