... I felt that I wasn't quite reaching all the students in one particular class. We had had several great lessons during the terms so far where everyone seemed to be engaged and active in their own way and yet I had a nagging feeling that something was amiss.
Every teacher in the school had for months been working on 'Formative Assessment' and I realsied that I too would benefit from similar feedback. The idea of bringing colleagues into the classroom seemed too challenging since they were tied to their own timetables. And then I realised that there already twenty students whom I could ask. I was looking for a quick and easy way to get honest feedback from the students. The obvious solution was to use an anonymous feedback form, on paper.
During the term I had previously given the students in this class several sessions with feedback, in public and in private, so they were quite used to the idea and format of giving and receiving feedback. Towards the end of one lesson, I placed an Excellent / Good / OK / Poor feedback form at the front of the class and invited the students to make a mark where they assessed the quality of my lessons (in general) to be. At the end of the lesson I moved to the back of the room, tidying up, and the students made their marks as they left the room.
I had chosen 4 categories to avoid getting too many "middle" answers. I anticipated there would be a spread of answers across the range. I hoped for a few "Excellent" marks.
I got a wake-up call.
Although the majority of the marks were Excellent and Good, there were two marks under Poor. I found it oddly difficult to focus on the generally high mark that the class had given me. What stuck out in my mind were the two Poor marks, and that I had no idea who had made them. I realised that I had opened up a channel of communication with the students that was different and more useful to the usual classroom situation.
At the start of the next lesson I told the class the results that they had given me and that I was really happy to get a generally high mark, and worried that I was not serving at least two students well enough. I did my best not to look at any students and told the class that I was deliberately looking at the ceiling because I didn't want to publicly identify the students here and now, and I did want to encourge them to contact me to discuss what I could do to support them better.
In that moment of feedback it occured to me that I could ask all the students what they thought might be beneficial changes to my teaching. I told them that I was going to ask for more feedback later because I felt it gave us more connection and that such a thing is useful for learning.
Some days later, I think it was a Friday, I put out another anonymous Feedback Form. This time the headings were More of / Same / Less of, and I invited the students as they left the classroom to note what activities they would like to have more of / the same of / less of
In this way I was able to get input into the design of the lessons ...
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