Monday, May 21, 2018

Any questions, comments or concerns?

It's the most wonderful time of the year..... (at least until August comes and we get all excited about the new year and new ideas and new kiddos)!

Many teachers give some kind of end of year survey to their kids to evaluate their experience and how they, as teachers, can improve. In this post, I wanted to give an overview of my experience with these, what I did this year, and the results I got from my kids. I also want to talk about what we do with these results - how we can use them and what we should take away from them.

The Past 

What I have asked:

I've been doing these surveys for years. I want to know what my kids like and what we've done well. I also want to get ideas for the next year. I've seen many iterations of this and have tried a few different ones myself.

  • a detailed questionnaire on specific things we've done - These often include questions about student motivations, studying, and grades. Personally, while these things are important on a case by case basis, they are not key when it comes to an end of the year survey for me. They are important when it comes to student evaluations for themselves, but it shouldn't play into my evaluation of me. 
  • Plus/Deltas - Not only have I done these, but I have posted about them. They work great, for some things, but I do not think they are most useful for a full semester review. If I were to do these, it would be for a specific activity or lesson. 
  • 3 questions - This is the most recent version (except what I did this year). It is what many of my colleagues use as well:
    • What is one thing we've done this year that has HELPED you?
    • What is one thing we've done this year that has NOT HELPED you?
    • If you could change, ONE THING about Latin class you'd change to help you make progress?

My experiences

  • Detailed survey
    • I found that if a student hadn't studied or didn't have the motivation I expected, I was tempted to ignore their feedback because, "hey, they didn't put in the time." But, if I think about it, this survey is about me and my class, not what they do in their own time. 
    • I found this to be too taxing on a kid. They'd get caught up in the other questions and we'd run out of time, or they'd rush through it, and I would be left trying to interpret less than clear answers.
  • Plus/Deltas
    • I found that it was really easy to go onto a side road that steered away from the focus. Often the focus would become things I couldn't change, or things that spoke about students, rather than the focus. 
    • I also found it was really easy to go negative and find yourself begging for a plus. That can be incredibly disheartening to both students and teachers. 
    • Lastly, since these tend to be done publicly, many students may not speak at all, for fear of criticism or ridicule and since the list is singular
  • 3 questions
    • I found myself focusing on the negative and sometimes, it was really hard to deal with. 
    • I found that often those negatives were written in a way meant to hurt me, or written in a way that didn't provide ways to improve at all. 
    • The "change" requested often had little to do with we did and more with things I could change like: the heat and AC in the classroom, the time of day I had X student, the class size, etc. 

The Present

What I asked this year

Last year, when I got some particularly negative feedback that had little to do with what I had done and felt personal, I decided to make a change. I really am dedicated to improving every year and so I wanted to find a way to ask for feedback, but try to avoid personal attacks on myself, my language, or other students. So, I came up with these three questions:
  1. What is something we've done this semester that you really LIKED?
  2. What is something we've done this semester that you feel HELPED you the most?
  3. If you could do more of any one thing, what would it be?
These questions focus on positives, but also reveal things I could improve on. I know what my lessons were, I can see how often I did things. I did this last fall and got some great feedback. I've worked to include it this semester. 

The Results

Last semester revealed that students really liked interactive things and were enjoying tasks over written assessments. It also revealed that students' skills were evolving and so should some of my lessons. I worked to make that happen this semester. 

This semester's results are linked here. You'll find in this list basic numbers of students who said these things were enjoyable, were helpful, and that they want more of. Please be aware that as of my reflection a number of students hadn't taken the survey (AP testing and such) and I threw out 1-2 responses that were less than helpful.

Reflection

I just gave my survey this week. This year, I gave it on a google survey rather than on paper. I found it easier to collate responses that way. Overall, the responses were what I expected:
  • many kids like things like movie shorts, games, etc.
  • many kids felt like dictations were very helpful.
  • kids want more interactive things and more games
A few things surprised me:
  • the number of kids who liked timed writes went up from last year
  • where in previous years the focus was on specific activities, this year there was a lot of discussion of units we did that were enjoyed.
It was really nice to see how many kids have enjoyed what we did this year. It validates the way we do things here and the choice we give kids. 

I'm not quite sure how these surveys will affect what I do next year. I do see that many of them are ready for more and more intensive timed writes (based on this and some discussions I've had), but that was already part of my plan for next year. I will need to sit more with these, but I will definitely reference them when the time comes to think about the fall.