- Teaching in a Pandemic: Help Teachers, Help You - February 2, 2021
- The Importance of Feedback in Distance Learning - October 9, 2020
- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher's View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts - Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
A student grading a teacher. This is not as far-fetched as you think. Have you listened to them when they receive their schedules? They talk about which teachers give “too much” work or teachers who are really “strict.” They already talk about you and your class. In fact, college students evaluate their professors after the class. Why shouldn't we allow our elementary, middle, and high school students to evaluate us?
The first time I did this, I was afraid. I thought they were all going to put I am a bad teacher. They are going to destroy my confidence, but I did it anyway. It was my second year teaching and I thought what do I have to lose? And I was so surprised, they were honest. I was able to see myself from their eyes. I changed my teaching style. I made them put WHY (“textual evidence”) for each low evaluation. This way I could improve. Some even put, “You should go see Ms. So and So, she is really great at teaching writing” or “Ms. So and So is great at keeping the class in order.” Those students helped me grow so much. I spent the summer focusing on new ways to teach and made myself more aware of the things I say and how I say them.
We all have our weak areas. Sometimes we are so focused on what we think we are weak in, we don’t know notice what else suffers. For example, I focus on classroom management. I know I could always improve in this area. On one of my student evaluations, a student put you need to give more feedback. He was absolutely right. I was so focused on keeping the class “in order” that I would forget to hand back papers regularly and explain why an essay needs improvement. I was so afraid to let them work independently, I forgot to work with them individually. Allowing students to teach us is the one of the best ways to improve yourself. We are so blinded by the need for high grades, sometimes we forget to give our students what they need most. Students and teachers are a community, and we must all work together if we want to succeed.
Of course, you should take evaluations with a grain of salt. Some students are just going to put ones to upset you. Other will give you straight fives because they may be afraid you will be upset. The majority are pretty honest and you will see yourself through their eyes and it is eye-opening.
Here is the rubric I use for teacher evaluation.
We critique them all the time. Why not let the roles reverse? Students are experts. They have been in classrooms for most of their lives. Why not let them tell you ways you could improve? Swallow your pride and let them help you the way you help them grow. You may be surprised at the results.