About Jake Miller

Mr. Jake Miller is the 2016 National History Day Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, a 2017 NEA Global Fellow to China, and a former candidate for county-wide office. Miller has written more than 500 articles, most of which have appeared on The Educator's Room. He's the opening contributor to TER's book When the Fire Is Gone. Learn more about Jake at www.MrJakeMiller.com

Success Failure Buttons Show Successing Or FailingI’ve failed to understand why teachers don’t survey students, parents, and community members more. Our line of work is one of the most interpersonal in the entire world, and yet we often leave our greatest resources untapped – the input from others.

At the end of a secondary teacher’s year, they’ve spent what accumulates to 2 full weeks with a student, while an elementary teacher extends beyond 2 months. These students and their parents have plenty of positive reinforcement for what we do; we should seek it.

On the other hand, they can offer constructive criticism that can make us better teachers for the upcoming school year. I don’t know about the rest of the teachers reading this, but that’s always my goal in the “off-season.”

How can you survey these stakeholders? Google Drive has an incredible survey option that you can use. I prefer Google’s version; it’s easily produced, adaptable, and viewing the stats is great. Here are eight surveys you should consider asking others who can make you a better teacher:

For Students:

  • Classroom Set-up Survey – one of the things that will always make me a better fit for students than a computer is a lively classroom. Each summer I come up with a new take on how to make that learning space better for students. Usually they offer some incredible feedback on how to make our shared home more conducive to their learning.
  • Website Reflection – with the continued permeation of computers in our profession, it’s essential that all teachers have a website that can supplement your instruction. Students should let you know what they like and use so you can focus your efforts on those items.
  • Survey of Assessments – once these students have “no skin in the game,” they’ll let you know exactly what you wanted to know about quizzes, tests, projects, and other major grading systems you employ. The big questions should revolve around fairness and challenge, and they’ll let you know if they feel it’s too easy, they’re being properly assessed, or if they’re overstretched, which should tell you more about…
  • Teaching Style Survey – since we share so much time with students, it’ll be great to reflect with students on how you do your job. Do you hold their hand too much or too little? Are your lessons overladen with lecture or do you often leave the students wishing they learned more before the test? What was their favorite / most impactful lesson?

For Parents:

  • Communication Reflection – what is your communication like with those adults at home? In an effort to build up and win back public support, we have to show each parent just how much we care about their child’s successes and failures; it’s amazing how much headway we could build if we teachers could build if we just reach back home more
  • Special Talents Survey – if you’ve done a great job to show how much you care about your students, it becomes infectious. Infect the soon-to-be past parents in your instruction by seeing what they can contribute to your future lessons as guest speakers and experts in their respective field. You’ll be surprised how valuable former parents can be, as the last time my district moved me to the high school, they gave me the lowest group of 11th graders in our district. I tapped former parents as mentors for these kids, and it was win-win-win.

For Your Colleagues:

  • The Teacher-Leader Survey – from what the writers here at The Educator’s Room have assessed, the teachers who read our blog aren’t just your normal teachers; they’re teacher-leaders. Sometimes we have great principals to couple with us, and in other circumstances, we’re the ones our colleagues flock to for advice and direction. Look at the issues surrounding your school, think of creative ways to solve them, and then ask your colleagues. Just make sure you don’t make a green-eyed, redemptive principal on the other side of the table.
  • Personal Reflection – teachers should be reflecting on what they’ve done each day, but, let’s face it, we often are just so pressed for time that we cannot. Think of how your year went with each unit and subject, and reflect yourself. Share it with your colleagues so they can start grinding the gears this summer.

I’ve made most of these surveys, so if you’d like a copy of one, feel free to Direct Message me @MrJakeMiller. In addition, what are some surveys we could add to this list that you feel would be just as or more beneficial?

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