You and I haven’t ever talked about the use of the Teacher Report Card as a way to get feedback from students, but lemme tell ya; it’s one of my favorite things I do.
Every students’ face lit up when I mentioned—before giving them the test on Wednesday—”After the test, you’ll be given a link. That link takes you to a Teacher Report Card where you will grade me.”
“Listen, though. I want to be the best teacher I can be, so I’m asking you how you think the class is going because you know best. Be honest with me. You will not hurt my feelings, I can take it. Here’s your test.”
And they were honest, as only teenagers could be. Here’s what happened:
Good Stuff First
Quite proud of my top six.
Stuff to Ignore
In previous years, makes me feel important also been my lowest-scoring question. It’s notable that most students in the latter half of my career feel that I respect each student (#2), praise good work (#4), and try to see the students point of view (#5).
Yet I still don’t make them feel important.
Let me get developmental for a moment; I think teenagers will always have a need to feel important, one that we should encourage and affirm as long as it doesn’t encroach on the importance of others. This is a life stage where the identity is forming, which is why haircuts, hair dye, piercings, changes in handwriting, changes in clothing, changes in language, love interests, sexuality questions, and asking their teacher if he smokes weed…
…will always be natural parts of being a teenager. It’s developmental.
So that question will probably always be my lowest.
(If you also give the TRC to your students, affirm or disprove my theory in the comments.)
Stuff to Improve
Yes, my lowest is still 85% positive.
Yes, I still want to be the best I can, so I’m looking at the bottom.
The questions above that I’ve shaded … what color is that? … copper?… The shaded items are my focus for the second half of my long-term sub assignment. Plenty of free-response comments affirmed that my classroom management is frustrating the compliant students, especially when it comes to covering the material.
Rick Morris, one of the first to dramatically impact my classroom culture, had a clear and consistent classroom management (which he modeled for us in full day workshop). As we debriefed, he said something that has stuck with me for years.
Shelter and protect the compliant
Claire, in 6th period, there are two students. One consistently arrives on time, completes all her assignments, and volunteers to answer questions. The other students made nothing but negative or disparaging remarks for the first two weeks of school. (He’s better now.)
When the compliant student asked to move seats, I did. She deserves to be sheltered and protected more than the knucklehead needs an elbow partner.
On the list of “Ways Teaching is Different in 2016 than 2013” is the obsession with phones. About 25% of students mentioned “phone” in their response, and we use them for calculators sometimes and that’s pretty much it.
Also dabbing is new and kinda fun.
Then, 7th period taught me how to dab.
So, yeah. It was a good day. https://t.co/7wBJEnL21v
— Matt Vaudrey (@MrVaudrey) September 14, 2016
On Wednesday, students gave me their opinions. On Monday, I was more … demanding… with the class following instructions quickly. Sixth period (of course) felt my wrath first, but quickly fell in line.
Nobody likes hearing their teacher use the Grumpy Voice.
Claire, I’m not saying I’ve solved the issue that students mentioned; I’m saying I’m improving.
Next up, content. Teaching RSP 8th grade in the hood requires a different skill set (and a different pace) than teaching these students.
~Matt “Farther Up and Farther In” Vaudrey
P.S. Notable in the student responses is the preference toward math class feeling like it’s always felt. A few students mentioned a preference for the typical math class; one even sat me down yesterday and asked why we don’t take notes and do practice like math class is supposed to. Change is hard. Math reform can’t be done on an island.
The yellow paper that students mentioned is a handout we use to tackle Appetizers as bellwork everyday. That one student who complained can suck it up; it’s an important part of building number sense and it’s friggin’ fun.
If you’re interested in giving the TRC to your students, click here to make a copy of the Google Form.
And—in the name of vulnerability and transparency—here are all the student responses.