Near the start of Term 3, I gathered feedback from some of my classes about what they think of the job I do as a teacher. My plan was to write reflections about it shortly afterwards, but this got pushed back as other things got busy. With a week to go in the term, it's about time that I do this. This is the feedback I got from Year 9. Hopefully I'll get to Year 7 soon. I never took feedback from Year 10, because I had only just taken over the class in the middle of the year, but I plan to to this with them early next term.
Just like other times I've gathered feedback, I used the Start, Stop, Keep, Change format, and since our students have one-to-one laptops, it was easy to create a simple Google form.
I'll go through each section one at time, and address each comment as I go.
Sending students out when they are being naughty or rude. This is a tricky one. I've always been averse to sending students out of class because their best chance to learn is in class. But I also realise that it's unfair on the other students if they are being disrupted from their learning.
This has been a challenging year for me in this respect. Trying to get this balance right takes continual work. What I need to always remind myself is that my aim is to give every student of mine every opportunity to learn and to do the right things that I can.
Making stuff easier. No. Sorry, but my job isn't to make things easy for my students. My job is to get them to learn, and I believe that getting them to work and think hard is the best way to do that. I could be reading this wrong, but it sometimes seems that when students say "this is too hard", what they really mean is "I don't want to think for myself". That's not always the case, and I need to plan tasks very carefully so they are accessible to students. But, you know, growth mindset and all that.
More puzzles like the kangaroo one. As in this puzzle. I'm not sure why this is under 'start', because evidently I already do this. But could I do more of this? Absolutely. These are definitely my favourite lessons, and I want to include these sort of problems as much as I can. Really, I think this comes down to preparing my lessons and units further in advance, so I can be thinking more about lessons like this. I know that I'm not always the best at forward planning, so I need to come up with strategies to improve this.
Stop stopping for the tools who don't want to listen, pay attention to those that are giving you theirs. Dealing with students who choose not to listen is always a challenge. I really don't think ignoring them is the solution. I don't like speaking over the top of students, and I don't think I should have to. I know I need to always be looking for better strategies to deal with these kids.
Stop counting when you want us to be quiet and just yell at us like a normal teacher. One of those strategies I use is counting quietly by fives when students are too loud. I'm sorry, but I use that strategy because it works. Well, sometimes it works. If the class wants me to stop doing it, they should stop talking quicker.
Stop talking in smart person language. Do I use mathematical language a lot in class? Well, yes. I want my students to learn the appropriate terminology, so I believe I should be using that terminology. Could I make that language more accessible? Maybe. Now that I think about it, I may sometimes make the false assumption that students remember the terms they've learnt previously. Maybe one strategy could be to define prior terms at the start of each unit, and use a standard format so students recognise that's what I'm doing.
Keep that Sir Carter actually helps you work it out instead of yelling at you to have it finished. I'm going to ignore the "Sir Carter" bit, I don't know what that's about. I think I do a pretty good job at moving around the class helping students. One thing I keep working on is identifying what that minimum amount of help I can give a student, so they can do the maximum amount of thinking themselves.
Keep making it interesting. I'll definitely keep trying!
Less book work and worksheets, more hands on activities. I agree. Completely. I think this comes back to the whole issue of being organised that I mentioned earlier. Often the issue for me isn't that I don't want to do a hands on activity, rather I haven't managed to find or create an activity for the lesson that I have in mind.
There are a lot of comments I'm leaving out here. There were a lot of silly ones (that can wait for another blog post). But there were a lot of lovely comments about me doing a good job, particularly all the ones who said I should change "nothing". It's really nice to get positive feedback from students sometimes. But I also realise that what I'm actually after are the comments that lead to a change in my teaching practice. I want to come back to this post at some point, maybe over the upcoming break, and explore specific strategies I can use to improve my teaching practice.