Often when we think about feedback related to our teaching we think about administrator evaluations, done in a variety of ways, yet rarely do we consider students’ voices. Admin feedback is usually based on a quick snapshot during a lesson we planned knowing the evaluator would be in the room. This type of feedback can be beneficial when implemented thoughtfully and we know that meaningful feedback is one of the quickest ways to grow as a learner and a teacher.
However, what we miss in this is the learner experience. What is it like to be in our class day in and day out? What’s working? What’s not? What needs am I meeting? Which am I missing? When we provide students space to let us know constructively what is working and not working in a class setting we can get an insider’s view of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of our instruction. This process is not only eye-opening, but an amazing opportunity to grow as an educator and to make sure that all students’ needs are getting met.
Feedback is something that we should ask for throughout the semester in a variety of forms. A great tool for bigger picture feedback is an end of semester survey.
Surveys can be created either digitally (Google Form is often my first choice) or something simple in writing. The key is to make it open and safe enough to gather quality feedback that will inform future instruction and lead to more meaningful relationships with students.
Here are some examples from an end of semester survey. You can see that there are many opportunities for me to ask further questions, see where my instruction or methods were confusing to some students and where I have opportunities to grow. Not all feedback means immediate change is needed. It just means that I am open to growth and living the example that I want from my students.
It’s not always easy to hear that a student is not feeling that their needs are being met in my classroom, or that a lesson that I labored on for hours and was really passionate about fell flat. It is, however, important and powerful when we are willing to learn from our students. When they see us being open to honest feedback and addressing the concerns and needs of the class they will be more receptive to the feedback we are providing them on their work. This way the class becomes a mutual learning experience, where honesty and risk-taking are welcome and in that case, growth is inevitable.
Krista Gypton taught for 19 years and has received numerous awards for her teaching and student community service, including the 2008 Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence. She is an emphatic believer in the power of service to others and has traveled as far as South Africa with students to give back. She has been a keynote speaker and trainer for the past 11 years, both nationally and internationally.