Sunday, May 22, 2016

End-of-Year Student Reflections and Evaluation

We've almost made it! The end of another school year is here.

I love student reflections. I like to check in with kids periodically to see how things are going. I want to know what's working, what's not, and their perceptions of things. Students often have very good ideas, and I want to know how they think I could improve my class.

I realize that I'm not always going to get the most serious of answers from 8th graders, but overall they do very well with reflections.

I gave this year's end-of-year reflection in a Google Form. I really like the recent updates to Google Forms.

The Google Form had 30 questions where students evaluated various characteristics of me on a scale from "Strongly Disagree" to "Strongly Agree." Students rated everything from my patience to organization to enthusiasm.

Nothing really surprised me about the responses to these questions. There were very few "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree" responses, so I looked at the "Unsure" sections for areas that might need improvement. The questions with the highest percentage of "Unsure" - like giving clear directions - where areas I agree I could improve.

The final five questions were open-ended.

When asked about enjoyable aspects of the class, flipped lessons and videos were mentioned the most. I expected retakes to be mentioned more than they were. Students enjoyed working with partners and several different activities and games.

Next I asked about things about the class that can be improved. Students want to work with partners even more. The most popular answer was "less Punchlines." I did feel toward the end of the year - particularly the factoring unit - that I "Punchlined them to death." I had my reasons, but I agree that I needed to mix it up more.

Students also mentioned wanting more competition activities. There is a relay activity I do during equations that students love, and it's the only time of the year I do it. Next year I will find more activities like that one.

Another suggestion that I want to focus on is to find a better way to start a class after students have watched a video. Some sort of summary to make sure students understood what they watched. It's an aspect of my flipped classroom I have struggled with and wanted to improve since I started. I've tried a couple of different ways to move students from the video to classroom activities, but I haven't found "the way" I'm happy with. I'll work on it this summer.

Most students believed they demonstrated their best work and behavior. They would admit to occasionally slacking off. :)

When asked what one thing they learned they thought they would remember or use, Pythagorean Theorem was the clear winner. Factoring was mentioned more often than I expected. A few students wrote of life lessons like "always be positive and try your hardest."

"Retake more tests" was one of the most popular answers to "What would you do differently if you could do this course over again?"

Students were very nice in their responses to "Is there anything else you would like Mrs. Gibbs to know?" Reading "it was a fun math year" and "this year I love [math] and look forward to it everyday" did my heart good.

I'm pretty reflective, and for the most part I know where I'm weak as a teacher and need to improve. But I also know students have a perspective all their own, and they will often notice things I don't. They are the reason I teach, and I want to make every effort to meet their needs. Reflections and evaluations help me improve my teaching practice.

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