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Survey Says

James King Education, Life in the Classroom

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This semester I have written about my huge ego, seeking help from peers, learning from podcasts, and bringing in experience from previous jobs. This time, I want to focus on who matters most: my students.

As a new teacher, I am seeking feedback and guidance everywhere. Last year, I had my students fill out an anonymous survey about my performance.

I wanted my own report card. Last year, I wanted to know if the students thought I did a good job. Through a series of multiple choice and open ended questions, I saw how my students saw me. There were a few takeaways, but really the survey served as a pat on the head or a gold star on my paper.

This year, on a whim, I gave the survey the last day of the first semester. I changed the survey a bit however.

This activity brought me two inspirations this month. First, this query helps me with these students, this school year. Next, I had a realization about the tool itself.

 

What I found:

I asked them about how we spent class time, what we could do better, and whether they perceived me as approachable.

 

Clear results from my freshmen English students-

  • They love in-class time to read a book of their choice. 87% of my students said they saw the value in reading independently in class, and 42% said they wish they had more time to read in class.
  • Students want more time to practice with computers. 96% of the students stated they valued our weekly typing practice, 71% asked for more time with typing practice specifically.
  • They are shy and want me to know that. This came across multiple opened ended questions, so I can’t quantify this. The results were overt however. They said they may need help, they may think I’m helpful, but they are too shy and timid to admit they need help or to come see me before or after school.

 

The first two bullets help me stand firm in that use of time, and I wonder where I can sneak more opportunities for these things for them. The last bullet point is something I naturally knew about students, but reading how many wanted me to know this incites me to figure out a solution. I will spend time over break alone and with colleagues (and hopefully in the blog comments!) trying to figure out ways to alleviate this barrier.

 

The survey itself:

 

In a admittedly quick analysis, one thing that stands out to me is that my unscientific survey can benefit from peer revision. I bet my phrasing frames certain responses. I would wager biases I do not realize are present as well. It is possible I am misreading responses to fit them into my desired narrative.

So, now I’ll be sure to have peers look over the results and see how they take the responses. I want to work with my PLC to overhaul the survey and use the survey not only for us in this year, but to give meaningful insights every year to the sophomore teachers at our school.

With work, this anonymous survey can help us hear and react better to the shy, quiet, and overlooked students.

I hope my PLC’s are open to the idea not only in assisting me, but assisting our whole campus.

 

What about you all?

Have you given surveys in the past?

What types of questions have you given or what results have you seen?

And moreover, does anyone have concise strategies to help reduce anxiety or to overcome the timid tendencies of our students?

Thank you all for the input!

 

 
  • Beth Maloney

    Hi James, I love the idea of using surveys or report cards with my students. I do them faithfully at the end of each school year but sometimes more randomly, especially if I feel like something is “off” and we could be doing better. At the end of the year, I always ask my students to grade me and tell me about their most and least favorite parts of our year and our daily routine together. It really helps me inform my teaching. Keep up the great work!

  • Sandy Merz

    I often ask students what teachers remind them of me. That can open your eyes. Also, I ask when I time they’ve been mad at me and happy with me. Answers to those questions make you realize how something like a comment or a gesture can mean so little to us at the time, but be something they remember forever.

  • Caitlin Corrigan

    What a great idea! I’ve never used surveys this way before, and it sounds like you’ve used this information to make a difference with the group of students you have this year. I know this will positively impact your students for the 2nd half of the year!

  • Leah Clark

    I love the idea of sharing this data with your sophomore teachers. While this requires everyone to be vulnerable, this information could be very insightful and informative for the teachers about to receive these students in their classrooms. There may be some very wonderful and useful trends that could help guide planning. Great post!

  • Rachel Perugini

    I do open ended surveys like this at the end of the year too and always get helpful feedback. The kids really do have a knack for knowing what you need to work on. I also do some multiple choice/check box type questions so I can show the kids the results. They like seeing what book was the class favorite and ranking our hardest vs easiest assignment; still good information and it is fun to hear what the kids think about their class rankings.