Last year, in the last week of school I had my classes write a report on my performance for the year. I like to get students feedback about what their favourite topics or lessons were and if there is anything they think I can do to improve my performance as a teacher. In the rush of the years end, I only really glanced at them and today as I was moving into my new office I came across the pile and read them.
There were lots of heartwarming and positive feedback, which was lovely. Some kids wrote some really funny things and alluded to jokes we’d made throughout the year, which was fun too. It was great to hear the lessons they’d really enjoyed and the skills they felt they’d mastered this year.
Many of the SOSE students felt they’d learnt to appreciate how fortunate we are and not to take their lives for granted when we studied ‘Poverty’. Some of my Year 9 English students thanked me for giving them an appreciation of reading, and said they loved it now because I ’always harped on about’ great books, so that was really encouraging. There were lots of individual responses that were interesting and most enjoyed the variety of learning activities.
The learning feedback I got was that I need to be quiet more. Quite a few kids wrote that I was great at getting the class to work quietly or read quietly in wider reading and then I tended to talk and spoil the space. Some students found that annoying and distracting. I know I do that. I will get them all settled into their reading and then when it is all quiet and peaceful, I will remember something I forgot to tell them and impatiently blurt it out.
Quite a few of them mentioned I go off track easily, some found this a positive trait and others were critical of it. I do this. I think I have improved a bit though, I remember one year, students would frequently raise issues about the environment or media, which would lead to a big discussion or rant from me and they used it as a tool for ‘getting out of work’. I took a while to realise I reacted in predictable ways to issues that I am passionate about. Predictable reactions can be deadly in the classroom.
The other criticisms and complaints were poor spelling, not paying enough attention to quieter students, lateness to class and swearing occasionally. Most students put their names on the report, which was optional.
I felt the feedback was fair and accurate and I am going to list the areas for improvement and pin it up where I can see it this year so I remember to watch my progress in these areas. I felt it was a really good process to use with students and I think I will do it at the end of each semester from now on.