Are your teaching methods being well-received? Do your students trust you? Here’s how to find out. Asking our “clients” — our students and their families — for their honest feedback can be a daunting task, but it’s one that can give some immensely powerful information. Whether you discover just howSep 09, 2019
Are your teaching methods being well-received? Do your students trust you? Here’s how to find out.
Asking our “clients” — our students and their families — for their honest feedback can be a daunting task, but it’s one that can give some immensely powerful information. Whether you discover just how wonderfully effective a particular lesson was, or you unearth an important misstep, you’ll be a better teacher for it.
The steps to asking for and receiving feedback are simple: create, survey, distribute, and reflect. Obtain meaningful responses by following these four guidelines.
1. Ask questions in a way that helps students draw conclusions from experience
When you ask students for feedback, your questions should prompt them to think critically about your actions in the classroom. Set your students up for success by asking them to comment on what they observe and draw conclusions from their experiences:
- Is your teacher prepared for class every day?
- Is your teacher fair? Why?
- Do you trust your teacher? Why?
- How are your teacher’s expectations clear or unclear?
- What do you like best about this class? What would you change?
For younger students, use surveys that include rating scales or pre-written statements that they can agree or disagree with. Or consider asking learners who need further modifications to complete the survey with their families.
2. Maintain their anonymity
Safeguarding student anonymity is of the utmost importance. While in-class surveys may offer the highest completion rates, students may (rightly) worry that you’ll recognize their handwriting.
If possible, have students complete an anonymous survey on a school computer and print it out. Online survey tools, like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey, make it easy to collect anonymous feedback.
3. Discuss what constructive criticism is and what it’s not
For students of all ages, preface the survey with a discussion on how to be honest without being mean. Have them lead this conversation, or make a list as a class. What are some real-world examples of times where they’ve given constructive criticism? Why is some criticism constructive, and when does it become unhelpful? What purpose will their feedback about you serve for their own learning experiences?
4. Include their families
Want to get even more valuable feedback? Send a parent or guardian survey home. (Tip: Offer paper and digital options to get a higher response rate.)
Family feedback adds another dimension to your self-awareness. Show parents and guardians that you’re genuinely invested in helping their children succeed by asking the following questions:
- Does the teacher provide clear communication between home and school? How so?
- Is the homework your student is assigned in this class appropriate? Why?
- Is the teacher attentive to the social-emotional wellbeing of your student? How so?
- Does the teacher challenge your student to reach his or her full potential?
- Do you and your child feel comfortable approaching this teacher?
Finding out more about how your methods are reaching students increases self-awareness, and will ultimately help your learners. Seeking this knowledge midyear allows you to hear their concerns while there is still time to address them, and confirms what’s working, too. You’ll be glad you asked!