As my last set of students are working on their final, I’m ready to reflect on the rest of my end of year survey. This was the part where students were given a set of 30 statements and asked to rate me on them, with 1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree”. I then inserted all of the data into Excel and sorted based on average (mean) rating. So without further ado, ten things to work on from highest rating to lowest rating:
- “My teacher gives the right amount of work.” I find this very surprising, but I’ll go more into this when we reach #10.
- “My teacher is interesting.” This one made me a little sad, but as a new, young, female teacher I feel as though I have to draw really hard boundaries when it comes to divulging information about my personal life. My students know I have a younger brother and younger sister, and they know I have a boyfriend in med school. That’s about it. Maybe it’s time for me to start letting them in a little more so they can see I’m actually a real life normal young adult? Any advice here would be helpful; how much is too much for students to know about you?
- “My teacher is patient.” Not surprised by this. It’s something I’m actively working on and I truly feel as though this year I was more patient than last, but it’s so much harder than I thought sometimes…
- “My teacher gives me enough time to finish.” This goes with the last statement – wait time is something else that I’m actively working on. It’s also hard to figure out when students aren’t writing because they’re done or because they never started without constantly being on the move. I think as I get more comfortable using my iPad as a casting device I’ll get better at this and honestly if I lose technology I’ll probably have to relearn it all over again.
- “My teacher plans fun activities.” I do more activities than the other teachers teaching the same subjects as me but the students still don’t see them as fun. While I’m going to continue finding new activities to incorporate this one doesn’t bother me a ton.
- “My teacher seems to enjoy her job.” Well at least I know that a good amount of my students are empathetic enough to pick up on how stressed I was this semester! I’m going to be even more stressed next semester but I’ll be doing mostly project-based learning so I think I’ll be enjoying the stress.
- “My teacher has a sense of humor.” I’m not a funny person, I’ve never considered myself to be funny, and I don’t have any drive to become funnier. Also my students quite probably have a different sense of humor than me. I’m not broken up about this one either, but it is something to keep in the back of my mind. I don’t want to be a stone-faced killer my whole career.
- “My teacher is enthusiastic about teaching.” This one goes along with the stress. I do enjoy my job, but that’s hard to portray sometimes when you’re working on 6 different things in your mind and 3 in front of you. And I’m a very organized and prepared person, I just know that as a new teacher there’s always stuff I could be doing better. I also got the lowest rating on this statement from my worst behaved/managed class, so that’s a factor.
- “My teacher has good classroom discipline.” SURPRISE. 2ND YEAR TEACHER STILL STRUGGLING TO MANAGE CO-TAUGHT CLASSROOM.
- “My teacher is challenging.” This one really surprised me. Really surprised me. My students complained all year about how they didn’t understand things, how we were doing too much work, how the other Algebra 1 classes didn’t have homework, how low their grades were, and yet in the end they didn’t think I was challenging enough. Why? I’m not sure. This is going to be one of the things I reflect on the most over the summer, because I really was starting to think that maybe the classes were too hard or that I was expecting them to do too much work. But maybe the voices of the many were drowned out by the voices of the few, and in reality most of my students were surviving and okay with simply passing the class regardless of the grades they received or what they actually learned. I really don’t know about this one. It’s going to require a lot of thought.
A lot of these relate to each other, and while some of them made me sad they were also reassuring. I knew I was struggling with most of these things, and hearing it from multiple students in multiple classes via this survey is reaffirming the fact that I’m not crazy and these are things I actually need to work on. I know that with some of these statements they are ever changing, and I’ll have to adapt to every group of students in every school that I’m at, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to be better at classroom management or connecting with my students.
I know that some students loved me and therefore agreed or strongly agreed with each statement, and some hated my class and the highest they gave me was a 3 (which was “unsure”)… but, such is life. I almost don’t want to get to a point in my career where all of my students love me. Having critics, whether they’re honest or biased, is a crucial part in helping me reflect and grow. I wouldn’t be forced to confront the issues otherwise.
I wasn’t offended by the low ratings of the statements above. The students told their truth and this is me listening and responding one final time this year. The most offensive thing on any survey was a student strongly disagreeing with the statement that I have nice handwriting. What a rude and wholly inaccurate thing to say.