Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Asking scary questions

So I took Nordin Zuber's advice and decided to get student feedback from my year 7s about my teaching this term. I followed his template and plan pretty closely, although unfortunately I can't give feedback until next term, because this was the last lesson. I felt so good about the process and the results when I compiled them that I took an even scarier step: I did the same thing with my year 9 class (cue horror movie music and distant scream). I was pleasantly surprised.

What I was afraid of:
  • Obviously, getting totally slammed and told I was a bad teacher
  • The top year 7 kids telling me the work was too easy
  • All of year 9 saying the work was too hard
  • Lots of "I hated it" responses
What actually happened:
  • Most students seemed pretty pleased with how things were going (relative to their achievement level - the high achieving year 7s were more positive than the low-achieving year 9s)
  • The difficulty level seemed well-balanced (although year 9 did just get pretty decent test results back which has improved their outlook)
  • No one said they hated it (One year 7 kid was very surprised that I had given that as an option!)
  • The year 7s weren't as keen on the Weekend Homework Menu as I was. They did say they liked it and liked having choice, but I expected a bit more excitement about getting to choose and getting to play games! Apparently not.
  • Year 9 find each other very annoying! And hate seating plans (fair enough).
  • I didn't get any mind-blowing surprises, but I hope they will be more forthcoming with their comments if the process is repeated, both out of comfort and familiarity and because repetition will make them feel that their input is genuinely wanted and will be acted on.
Here are my difficulty graphs (year 7 at top, year 9 below):

I was pleased to see a fairly close distribution, and nicely balanced in year 7. I had been working hard to keep things easy for year 9, and kept feeling that it still wasn't easy enough. I think the graph suggests I need to keep working on it, but it isn't too far off!

Another funny thing is that it increases my feelings of goodwill towards my classes. It's good for me to stop seeing them in terms of behaviour and focus on how they are learning and feeling as individuals.

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