Learn Something About Yourself on the Last Day

Sure, it can be painful, but I learn more about my classroom and myself by hearing anonymous student feedback on the last day of school.

Their last assignment is to answer these questions — when in the last blog post about Last Day Loopbacks, I mentioned the survey, a commenter asked me to share my survey.

This survey isn't perfect, but it is the way I ask them to give me feedback.  Here is the survey, verbatim.

(  ) 8 – Keyboarding
(  ) 9 – Computer Fundamentals
(  ) 10 – Computer Science
(  ) 11 – Digital Graphic Design

In your honest opinion, what was the most important thing you learned this year?

In your honest opinion, what was the least important thing you learned this year?

What do you wish we had spent more time on?

What do you wish we had spent less time on?

What is something that I need to know so I can be a better teacher next year?

Is there anything you want me to know so I can improve?

If you participated in the Flint River project, was it worth the time spent?

What can be done to improve the Flint River project next year?

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this class, Westwood, or other issues that you think someone needs to know to make this a better place?

I love every single one of you.  It has been my honor, my privalege, and my life's calling to be your teacher.  Be safe this summer!  I love you!

This is typed in a Google Doc (not a Google form, because somehow when it is on the computer, they think I can track who did it!) 

Some don't ask because they might get not so positive feedback and sometimes it is obvious who writes things.   What can I do to improve?  “Give me a $100 dollars” — well, that is just being silly and sometimes it happens, it is OK.

But when you ask them.

“In your honest opinion, what is the least important thing you learned this year?”

And half of the students mention that the textbook was the least useful thing and just to get rid of it.  I find that interesting.

Some of the other interesting quotes on improving things:

“Make sure the other Flat Classroom teachers around the world teach their kids how to wiki.”

“Nothing really; you let kids express themselves. That's what important.”

“Slow down a little bit.”

“Make sure you teach current issues next year!”  (I may not be able to teach the electives if there are too many kids for me to teach!;-)

“We want to spend more time getting to know kids from other countries.”

“I like sour candy, not dum dums.”

Although, if you're like me, it is hard to open up and ask kids what they think and face it, NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU!  The kids who said I needed to give more free time, are also the ones who said I moved too fast!  That is OK.  If some of them don't say I push too hard, then I'm not doing enough!

But, the sweetest, most wonderful comment is barely readable — no punctuation on this page, and small comments under each question, but the last one is one I will cherish and put in my folder that I keep called “At a girl!”  I pull it out on the worst days of teaching to get through.  This student says:

“I loved this class and you truely have made a difference in my life.”

I will say this — this is my seventh year — the first year I didn't do a survey and the next 2-3 years the surveys were hard to read.  But now, for the most part, they help me adjust in ways I need to know.   It isn't all about having happy students and sometimes they get mad at me for pushing them to hard — that is OK.  But what is not OK is not asking students what they think.  They should know that at some point their voice will be heard.  They will be heard somehow — and if you don't give them a chance to be heard, they will speak out on myspace, youtube, and facebook – or even Rate My Profs.

In fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea for administration to anonymously survey teachers. There are a lot of us who don't complain and just “suck it up” but who might have some things to say.

Surveys are a great thing to do to end school on a positive note for those who are being listened to — although those who have to read the surveys may have to spend time on real introspection — we all need to have that sometimes!

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