Yesterday I had an interesting experience. ….
I had just finished a great technology class with Year 7, learning about coding. A student and I were speaking about her learning and how she felt she wasn’t pushing herself enough. As a tool to encourage her to see the benefit of evaluation and forward thinking I asked her to go away and evaluate my teaching of the class.
I told her to provide me with feedback however she would like, the only rules are, be honest and give me some ‘feed-forward’.
So off she went with a smile on her face, ready to critically analyse her teacher.
This is what happened:
This girl asked her classmates for their feedback and surveyed them about the lesson on a scale of 1-5 on 5 different criteria, they were:
- Enjoyable – was the lesson fun?
- Challenge – Were you challenged in your learning?
- Topic – Did you stay on topic?
- Support – Did you give us the right level of support? (not too much talking, and not too much freedom)
- Structure – Was the lesson structured well, did it have a clearly defined beginning, middle and end?
I was blown away! Incredible – what a criteria for a Year 7 student to come up with all on her own and in less than a few hours. She told me that she was collating data and will present it to me the following morning. She was really into this and I was impressed!
It gave me a real insight into the way she thought and the feedback was a real eye opener into the critical thinking eye that our students hold. The feedback was valuable, my results after her survey were:
- Enjoyable – 5/5
- Challenge – 4/5
- Topic – 3/5
- Support – 5/5
- Structure – 3.5/5
What amazing feedback and so honest. Then I turned the page over, and found the comments and next learning steps section followed by a ‘goal’ area.
Here is a small selection of the comments provided:
- “I enjoyed today’s technology lesson and found code.org really challenging. Mr Kemp helped me when I was stuck and showed me the correct blocks to use, explaining why and how to use it. I like how he didn’t do it for me, but gave me the chance to do it myself. Unfortunately Mr Kemp likes to tell stories and at times I was distracted by them”.
- “Mr K is an enjoyable teacher and I love his teaching style. I guess it helps that I am a technology guru and so is he. I always feel like an inventor or an entrepreneur when coding and I love that. I love having the freedom to code and challenge myself at my own pace”.
- “Technology was fun today. I got stuck on the farmer level but was able to get through it myself after a lot of trial and error”.
- “I worked with Mr Kemp on the puzzle “Stage 15, level 5″. We talked through how we could make it work. It turned into a whole class discussion. Eventually after some help from my classmates we figured out how to make the code function correctly”.
This feedback was great and some great truths from the students in my class. She also asked me to set a goal that I can work on to improve my classes from now on. I was so incredibly impressed with the structure she created and the feedback she was able to give me. When given opportunities students always amaze me!!! For those of you wondering, I discussed potential goals with her and she suggested that I might like to work on “continuing to tell engaging stories that are related to our topic of learning”. Another goal was to “continue supporting students in their learning, but give them another space to learn from their mistakes”.
Firstly, I was stoked that they felt comfortable to be honest and secondly I wondered how, as an educator, I can harness this power to make my teaching the best it can be.
It got me thinking that maybe student evaluation of teachers is a valuable component of any school evaluation programme. If students were given the opportunity to give their honest feedback about teachers then maybe the education system would be a more powerful thing. Maybe this would empower not only students but their teachers and parents as well. Would they feel more empowered as learners and push themselves above and beyond all expectations?
So many questions and so much thinking to do. I can see huge benefit in using student voice more actively as part of evaluation programmes within schools.
How do you use student voice in evaluation within your school? How can this empower you and your students to improve and be the best you can be?