Fall 2016 Teacher Report Card

Matt Vaudrey (@MrVaudrey and http://mrvaudrey.com/) has been using his version of a Teacher Report Card for a few years now, and I have been using a different one for the last couple of years but decided to give his version a go in January as a part of our end-of-course reflection.

My co-teacher and I only used this for Physics by Design, our project-based and blended learning pilot class. The responses given were for both of us, which may create some biased data; it would be interesting to receive this data individually because I’m not sure what (if anything) would be different! We also only received 25 responses out of 48 students and I’m not sure how that affected the end results.

Each response prompt begins with “My teachers…” and a rating of 1 means “strongly disagree” while a rating of 5 means “strongly agree”. Below you’ll see question-by-question results and my thoughts on each. Overall I’m much happier about these results than I was at the end of last year’s and I’ve got thoughts about that at the end.

  • respect each student. respect-each-student

This is good to see. I wonder what the six students who responded with either “disagree” or “unsure” believe that respecting each student looks like and if we did anything in particular to them that may have made them feel as though we didn’t respect them.

  • try to see the students’ point of view. see-the-students-point-of-view

What I found interesting here is that there are 3 more students who responded negatively to this than to the previous prompt, which again makes me wonder what our students feel a teacher should say/do to respect students. We did not do many of the typical first week activities because they had a week-long “bootcamp” the week before school but maybe we should have included more so that we could try to be on the same page a little more.

  • explain the math/physics concepts clearly. explain-physics-concepts-clearly

This is one where I wish we would’ve split it; I did the majority of math instruction while my co-teacher did most of the physics instruction. Did they believe one of us did a better job than the other? Also, we started off the year with much more direct instruction while our last unit was by far the most online-content heavy. Did that shift in teaching and learning style effect the responses to this prompt or would students have responded similarly in October?

  • use language that we can understand. use-language-that-we-understand

Why are the responses to this prompt mostly agree/strongly agree compared to the last prompt? What is the difference, in our students’ eyes, between explaining concepts clearly and using language that they can understand?

  • do a good job of treating all students equally. do-a-good-job-of-treating-students-equally

I am happy that our results are anonymous but I really want to know who put they strongly disagree with this statement and why.

  • seem to enjoy teaching. seem-to-enjoy-teaching

Well these are much better results than the results I got at the end of last year, and I think you could definitely see that if you walked into my classrooms to compare them. There were definitely still bad days (and weeks, if we’re being honest) but overall the first semester of this year was so much more enjoyable than the second semester of last year. Exponentially so. Spending half of my day all year long with the same students, who are freshmen/sophomores/juniors in Algebra 1, does not make me enjoy teaching.

  • show interest in students’ lives. show-an-interest-in-students-lives

I know I didn’t do as good of a job of this compared to my first two years of teaching. This year I have gone to significantly fewer sporting events and concerts but I tried to at least know what school activities each student was involved in.

  • make me feel important. make-me-feel-important

This question intrigued me the most because, reflecting on my high school experience, this wasn’t something I feel as though I thought about. In fact, one of my best and favorite teachers occasionally called me out for being dumb and/or full of myself (she did this with everyone; I chose to take her classes for three straight years). So maybe I didn’t need that but some students do. Or maybe I didn’t think I needed it but my life would’ve been altered in some way if I felt my teachers made me feel important. I’m not sure.

  • keep the class under control without being too tough. keep-the-class-under-control-without-being-too-tough

No disagreement here. I’m only in my third year so classroom management isn’t my strong suit, but that was compounded by the nature of this course. I ended up writing multiple referrals on the first day of the same class this semester so I think I may have swung a little too far in the opposite direction. We’re working on it.

  • answer questions completely. answer-questions-completely

I don’t always want to answer questions completely, especially in this more exploratory course, so I’m glad to see that most students agreed but I’m not broken up that we had a couple of who disagreed to varying degrees.

  • praise good work. praise-good-work

This makes me happy. I think it’s very easy, especially when your classroom management is lacking, to only focus on negative behaviors and students who aren’t doing work well. I am glad most students seem to have thought that we praised good work enough and I hope we can keep that up.

  • encourage me to be responsible. encourage-me-to-be-responsible

Oy vey, this is one of the hardest things about teaching freshmen. Suddenly they’re not forced to carry around a planner and they don’t have to have a locker and they get a personal school laptop/charger and calculator and it’s like all of the good work the middle school teachers did goes out the window. These results are encouraging but I know somehow we can do better.

Matt had two other prompts that I found interesting. These were fill in the blank and I’ve included a sample of student responses for each.

  • Sometimes the teacher _____, but not always.
    • gets frustrated
    • is nice
    • is crazy
    • didn’t understand what we were saying
    • does a good job of integrating online and face-to-face learning
    • has too many students to help at the same time
    • says bad words
  • Sometimes the teacher lets the class _____, but not always.
    • socialize
    • work outside in the hallway
    • choose who to work with
    • get loud

Overall I think this was a much more concise survey than I was giving to students previously and I appreciated the specific fill-in-the-blank responses at the end. There were a few responses to both that didn’t make sense, so that makes me wonder if those students created some misrepresentation in the previous ratings as well. The world will never know.

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End of Year Survey – Part 2

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.

#MTBoS30 Day 27: End of Year Survey – Results, pt. 1

My survey this year was two parts. The first part was a paper with 30 statements. The students were supposed to evaluate me on those 30 statements based on how strongly they agreed or disagreed. I will blog about these results next week once the absent students complete them.

The second part was a paper titled “If I Were A Teacher…” I gave students 6 prompts, and encouraged them to think about what their classroom would look and sound like. I only got a couple of responses from these but here they are:

  • What would your tardy policy be?
    • tardy after the classroom door closes, 2 each marking period is acceptable, possible consequences include lunch detention, after school detention, or referral
    • no tardies (not sure if this means no tardies are acceptable or they wouldn’t mark students tardy…)
    • tardy one minute after bell rings
    • you must have a slip or get a call home and only 3 unexcused tardies are acceptable
    • tardy 5 seconds after bell rings, 6 allowed per semester, if 3 or more in a week they get assigned extra homework
    • tardy 10 times they get a call home and go to ACS for the rest of the class period
    • 3 unexcused tardies all year
    • consequences would be reminder, warning, parent contact, lunch detention, suspension
    • keep track of tardies in a book and 5 is the most allowed

 

  • How would you arrange 30 desks?
    • in 6 rows of 5
    • 4 groups of 2, 4 groups of 4, and 2 groups of 3
    • 5 groups of 6
    • in a semi-circle facing the main whiteboard
    • in pairs

 

  • How would students take and keep track of notes?
    • take all papers home
    • students only taking notes 50% of the time
    • in a binder and not an interactive notebook
    • it’s on them to take notes
    • keep depending on how important
    • keep all papers they get in class
    • the interactive notebook and they wouldn’t have to keep worksheets
    • (sidenote: multiple students included the fact that notes help you remember and if you keep good notes you don’t have to ask the teacher as many questions)

 

  • What would your electronic device policy be?
    • they can be on them as long as they understand the work
    • consequences would be reminder, warning, take until end of period, take until end of day, parent contact, and suspension
    • 2 warnings, only music during solving time and not notes
    • 2 warnings and then the phone goes to the office for parents to pick up
    • no phone while the teacher is speaking
    • 3 warnings, not allowed when teacher is talking, after 3 warnings extra homework
    • no phones out during class and if you’re caught on it you will not get it back until the end of the school day
    • it’s okay when the teacher isn’t talking
    • use them whenever they want
    • as long as they are taking notes, they could have one headphone in

 

  • What would you do with students who fail a test or quiz?
    • give them lots of extra credit
    • call their parents
    • try and help them to see why they failed
    • see what is wrong and give them opportunities for extra credit
    • come after school
    • have to retake it and if they fail again they have to repeat the class
    • talk with parent and give advice to parent for student or after school; if phone is distracting take it away
    • tell them to do better next time and give them tutoring to help them improve
    • teach them some more and then let them retake it

 

  • Anything else? 
    • be on time
    • no sleeping
    • no snacks without permission
    • no cursing
    • do your work
    • be nice to the students and teachers
    • don’t get up till 10 seconds left of class
    • no talking when teaching
    • important to know basics like how to raise your hand or turn in homework

 

Some of these cracked me up – the students must think teachers have an unlimited amount of power! I found it very interesting that multiple students suggested extra homework as consequences as well. I definitely agree with a good amount of what they said and it’s going to give me a lot to think about while planning for next year, especially as I’ll be jumping into project-based learning (another topic for another day).

What questions would you have added?

Rounding Out The First Marking Period

Next week is the last full week of the first marking period, and here’s what I’ve thought so far.

  • I’m not sure that homework is helping any more than it did last year. I am going to start making sure I post answers to all assignments online and assigning mostly odd problems from the textbook so students can check their solutions.
  • My Algebra I students overall have continued to rock functions. We still need to work on making sure they know the proper ways to write domain and range and not mixing up the x- and y-intercepts though.
  • There was not enough time to teach congruent triangles in Geometry. I needed more days for that unit.

Looking forward,

  • I can’t wait for a seating rearrangement at the end of the marking period. It’s my favorite arrangement that I’ve discovered thus far, and hopefully it will decrease the off-task conversations in two of my classes.
  • I have officially applied for my first grants! I applied for one on my own, and two more as a part of teams. I’m still going to be applying for one this week as well, so hopefully we’ll get all of them!
  • I still don’t know how I’m going to spend 6 week teaching about the equation of a line, so if anyone has really awesome suggestions please let me know.
  • After reading this reddit post, I’m really interested in creating a similar environment for my classroom and it might be a major project of mine over the next summer. I’ve already determined some possible jobs: garbage/recycling people, calculator keepers, board cleaners, paper passer, banker…

I’m going to be posting pictures of our Algebra I INB pages from the first three units of the year soon!