Friday, June 10, 2016

Student evaluations

Do you let your students evaluate your class?

Every semester, I give my students a series of questions designed to let them evaluate the class, my teaching, and their own performance in class. I've implemented a student evaluation each year of teaching and I don't ever intend on stopping. Their comments on the evaluation form have been a tremendous form of help as I plan things that students actually *want* to do.

The round of evaluations from this school year were a pleasure to read. Almost 90% of the answers to "Which activities helped you learn the most this year?" were related to #BreakoutEDU. Some of those answers were about designing the games and others were about playing the games. When I let my students design games, I realized that one class really thrived with the group work and the added level of independence. So it came as no surprise that some of the students in that class told me that I need to plan more projects and let students struggle a little bit more.

One question that I really like on the form is, "How did your teacher help you the most this year?", but I had yet to get an answer that told me a whole lot about how my students perceived my input and feedback on their work. This year, however, I had a student who really showed me that I made a difference. His answer was:
He never let me get away with anything. He was always on my ass.
While the language was mildly inappropriate (these are high schoolers after all), I really appreciated his comment. This student struggled hard all year with staying motivated in school. He had really bad attendance for about a month and saw some of his close friends at school really fall off the wagon. But he persevered through it all and he helped me to know that I might have had something to do with that. His comment is, by far, my favorite I have ever received on this evaluation form.

The comments that I get from my students have been immensely helpful in honing my craft of teaching. If student evaluations are not part of your current teaching practice, I strongly encourage you to add it to your routine. To help you get started, CLICK HERE for a copy of the form I give to my students each semester. Make a copy of it and edit it to match your needs. I hope you'll give your students a chance to voice their opinions in a safe way (I promise them that nothing they say will affect their grade positively or negatively and I also do not read them until after the school year is over) and tell you, from their perspective, what is going well and what needs improvement in your class.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome Stern. I usually do it at the end of the year - I may consider doing it every semester. You are right, it gives you meaningful insight. Very cool - love it.