Twice a year, teachers in my district are required to survey the students in their class(es). The first survey is delivered in October. Students are invited to answer questions pertaining to their experiences in class (aka…’Rate Your Teacher’).
And then, teachers analyze the results, wipe the tears from their eyes, swallow the lump in their throat, put a bandaid on the wound, and create a personal plan for improvement.
In case you are wondering, my weaknesses (oops…I mean ‘areas for growth’), as identified by my students for the past 5 years are:
(2012-13) I am able to do the work given to me.
(A coworker of mine had a student explain that they were not able to do the work given to them, due to it being too bumpy in the car. Apparently that’s where homework was completed.)
(2013-14) Students are respectful to me in class.
(2014-15) I feel comfortable sharing my ideas in class.
(2015-16) I feel comfortable sharing my ideas in class.
(2016-17) I feel comfortable sharing my ideas in class.
Now I totally understand these surveys are meant to be formative, teacher talk for ‘provide feedback’, so I can, you know, improve myself.
I get it.
So each year, I give the survey.
I reflect upon the results.
And I create personal goals to address my weaknesses as a teacher. (Because, I am, if nothing else, a rule follower.)
But I feel a little self discloser is in order: I am not 100% on board with this practice. (Keep this between the two of us, okay?)
I’m not saying surveying students doesn’t have merit, but clearly there are some limitations.
This does not matter, however.
Because as they say, perception is everything.
And regardless of my personal issues, surveys are here to stay.
This year, however, was different. (Perhaps there was a survey surveying teachers about surveys.)
This year, we were provided with a document of a gazillion survey questions from which to choose from in order to create our own personalized surveys.
Amen. (Each October, I was really frustrated learning students did not feel comfortable sharing their feelings in class.)
This year, I was truly eager to see my results.
My lowest scoring survey questions for 2017-2018 were:
- How important is writing to you? (15% gave it not at all or not very)
- How often do students behave well in class? (20% gave it a never or rarely)
But yet, when asked ‘how well do you behave well in class’ 88% responded always or almost always.
So as I was trying to wrap my head around this information, I began thinking of how it all fit into to the grand scheme of things (aka ‘The Real World’).
What was my goal in addressing these concerns?
Well, first and foremost, I knew I needed students to view writing as important.
Because isn’t that the truth for everything in life? In order to make anything a priority, we need to see its value in our own life.
For example, I do not feel compelled to learn how to change a tire, because a.) I have a husband that is a ‘Mr. Fix It’, b.) I have a AAA card with a phone number on it, and c.) well, I don’t actually have a ‘c’, but you get the picture.
Therefore, I do not deem learning how to change a tire as important.
But what about when it comes to matters that are undeniably important? (In addition to writing, of course.)
We tend to take good health for granted until suddenly we don’t have it anymore.
How do we make health a priority in our life before it’s too late?
And then there is the whole behavior thing. How does that fit?
Well, how about the fact that judging the behaviors of others appears to be a whole lot easier than owning and changing our own behavior?
Judging others does nothing to make ourselves better. It does, in fact, make us worse.
So, as I tackle my personal plan for improvement this year, I am keeping the bigger picture in mind. These skills are not just important in the world of my students today, but these are skills I need to teach my students in order for them to reach their full potential in life.