Student Feedback (Year 7)

Continuing on from my last post, here is the feedback I got from Year 7. Like last time, I used Start, Stop, Keep and Change, and I'll go through responses for each question, adding my own reflections as I go.

I'll be honest, a lot of this feedback wasn't particularly helpful, such as asking me to change things that are school rules or I otherwise have no control over. Or asking whether we can do no quizzes or no written work at all. It reminds me that Year 7 students still have a lot of maturing to do, and that I need to take a lot of the things they say to me with a pinch of salt.

Start

Teaching us maths that we use in our every day lives. I want to rant about this one, but I'm trying to resist. I don't blame the student for repeating the narrative that the rest of society seems to believe, that maths is only relevant to very particular vocational areas and a complete waste of time otherwise. But I think that could be a whole other blog post. Not what I'm trying to do here.

That misconception is something I need to help my kids escape from with how I teach them. I need to convey that I'm not just teaching students to graph a linear equation because one day they'll need to graph a linear equation - though hopefully they will. But I also want to show them that doing maths is an interesting problem for its own sake. Because thinking mathematically, as a general skill, is something they will definitely need.

I think that over time, I am getting better at this. But comments like this from students show that I still have a long way to go.

Make it fun. I try. I really, really try. I promise. But this partly comes back to the whole 'being organised early so I can prepare more' thing that I talked about last time.

Telling us how to do the questions the easy way first. My students may not be a fan of the times I don't tell them the most efficient way of solving a problem immediately. Sorry kids, I disagree.

I think this is particularly a reference to making them find fraction divisions with rectangles (got this from Fawn Nguyen). Eventually, they started figuring out they could invert the second fraction and multiply without me telling them. So, did they learn that technique by the end of the lesson? Yes. Did they also do so understanding what division means and why that method works? YES! Did this lead to my class getting annoyed when they realised I knew this all along? Well, yeah. But I'm willing for my class to be annoyed at me if they're thinking more deeply as a result.

Free time every [insert day of week here]. Maybe this is the result of being an upper secondary specialist teaching students who have just left primary school, but I just don't believe in giving out free time as a reward. I already feel like I'm fighting the clock to teach these kids as much as possible in a year. I firmly believe that my role is as a highly trained educator, not a baby-sitter. However, I wouldn't mind hearing from anyone who has a difference stance, who could explain why they think free time is a good idea.

You should be organised. Yep. I'm not always the most organised at the start of a lesson, and once I enter the room (I don't have my own classroom) it can take a little bit to get set up. But I've been trying to improve on that this term, doing little things to make the start of each lesson go more smoothly.

Stop

Work out of the books. I'm not a fan of using the textbook, so I'm not sure where they get this from. We do use our textbooks sometimes, if I think the questions are good, but I prefer to find something else. But it's a reminder that even when you try and minimise the use of the textbook, kids still don't like the textbook.

Homework. ??? I'm really confused by this one. I've hardly given out homework this year. In fact, I've had multiple students complain that I don't give them enough homework. #icannotwin

Keep

Being nice :) Awwwww....

Laptop involved lessons. I love having one-to-one laptops at my school. (I'm not such a fan of kids breaking laptops, losing chargers, leaving their laptops at home, etc.) I'm hoping that kids aren't just saying this because they like their laptops, but because they are actually enjoying and understanding the interactive activities that we're doing. This is the first time I've gotten to use something like Desmos with kids from the start of secondary school, so I'm hoping their familiarity with it will be good preparation for their years ahead.

The counting warning thing. I count by fives quietly when my class won't give me their attention. Funnily enough, I got negative feedback about this from Year 9. I guess some kids really do appreciate that kind of explicit direction about my expectations.

Things on whiteboards. I assume they mean the mini whiteboards? I love using these. Fortunately, my students' textbooks come with a whiteboard in the back cover. Unfortunately, a large portion of them have lost it, and I can rarely locate the set that floats around the school. In the future, I need a more permanent solution, such as a set that stays with me, so I can use them whenever I want.

Change

Most of these were either covered in earlier questions, or were things that I can't or won't change. But there was...

Talking pace, because you talk really fast. This one surprised me. I thought I had a pretty good talking pace. But I need to remember that I need to accommodate every student in my class. So if even on student isn't hearing what I'm saying because I'm talking too fast for them, I need to consider slowing my pace.

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Shaun used to be maths, IT and ocassional physics teacher at a small P-12 school (primary and secondary) in rural Victoria, Australia. He is currently in the process of starting his career again in the United States.

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