End of Year Survey--Can I Change the Way I Roll?

Thirty years (yipes!) into this career, I know how I roll, and Lord knows, I am not perfect, I am not sure I am even an expert (though I chastise myself for not being one), and I can say with certainty, I am who I am.

Who am I as a teacher? Pretty much who I am as a human. Compassionate, maybe too much so for some students, Passionate, Geeky, Dorky, Kind, Interested, Introverted, and a tad prone to getting very animated (I prefer Hummingbird-like).

Inspired by  Hedge at http://approximatelynormalstats.blogspot.com/ I gave an end of the year exit survey to 4 of my five classes. (I forgot to give it on the first day of finals!) My goal was to see if I corroborate what my flaws are and to see if I what I thought was working was indeed working. And from that information, COULD I, was I WILLING to make changes.

On expectations that work for the students, the confirmation is nice (Nice as in, yes, it is nice to hear kind things about oneself and…), with some students touchingly articulate:

·            Everyone being loved
·            That we always had fun
·            Friendly classroom environment
·            Safe
·            I like that we had a planned schedule on what we would be doing

And these two beauties:
·            Just to be in class because we can get something out of every lesson
·            Classroom expectations are to be further dragged out of our cave by being Inspired and welcomed toward our own individual enlightenment. Next to math I learned about the world around more than I thought I would. As someone about to enter the crazy world as an adult I appreciated this very much.

And this major “ouch” in the classroom expectations that worked section:
·            N/A

On what expectation should I introduce or be more consistent about, I was not surprised by my weaknesses:
·            Yell at ur loud boys more
·            We should all be quiet and paying attention
·            I know it is hard, but she needs to be better at getting her kids to pay attention. She should be in complete control of her classroom

On these comments, I am not going to change much. I like loud. I think learning is social. I want students to feel like it is THEIR room. (I do not like teachers who think they "own" their room. It is a PUBLIC place for crying out loud. tax payers paid for it and most of its contents (if you are lucky)) I know some students like the quiet. They want to be filled up. Or maybe their life is chaotic and they come to school to quiet down.  What can I do to help those that feel unsafe? My first reaction is “thank goodness there are several us always teaching the same subject,” another reaction is from how I parent, “people are not the same, we need to be flexible and adaptable*,” and then I dig in, “you are not serving the needs of some teenagers, what are YOU going to do about it?”

*As I talk this out with other teachers and think about mentors, (whether veteran's like my AP, or new teachers that I supposedly mentor, but whom in reality become mirrors for me) I realize I would add another view that goes before "what is wrong with me as a public servant not meeting needs of clients" that is what CAN you learn from this teacher who is DIFFERENT? 

The other set of what expectations are desired and not felt are of these type:
·            More notes and explanations
·            Explain better
·            Slow down
and this one that is out of my comfort zone:

·            Explain the method to do a problem in more detail

More notes, explain better, the method, slow down...can I be more organized when I summarize, yes. I am a circular thinker. Works for some, but not for the concrete sequential learners. I am mindful of starting from where the students are at, AND I exist on trying to help students think broadly, think out of the box, move beyond their comfort zones, make meaning in their own way. How do I do both, explain, AND get students to think? I am darn determined to strike this balance. I will buck against "this is how you do it," for as long as I teach, because we have computers to do just do it. For me it is all about the "what" that needs to be done.

If you have any suggested reading, comments, or personal stories that can crack this code, I would be so grateful. Going for a bike ride now, time to strike a balance between getting it right and getting some fresh air.

Ach, this just in from my tweetdeck, I don't know who inspired the question, but thank you and I tweaked it for next year, "In what ways did this class help you see yourself as a math learner?"

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