In another post, I presented a case why teachers should seek feedback from their students. In deciding to seek feedback from students, it is important that it is worthwhile for both the teacher and the student.
Firstly, from the student’s perspective, they need to feel comfortable in having a voice in your class and know that their teacher is genuinely seeking to improve, with action likely to be taken upon any worthwhile suggestions for improvement. Secondly, from the teacher’s perspective, the feedback needs to be targeted, very specific, in order to gather the most meaningful feedback on the aspect of teaching sought for improvement.
Below are 4 focus areas that teachers could use as starting points for collecting feedback from their students:
Feedback on the unit or topic just covered in class. This is perhaps a softer introduction to teachers collecting feedback from their students, as it focuses more on the work covered in class rather than the teaching. When seeking feedback on the unit of work, teachers may ask students if they were interested in it, whether they found any particular activity engaging, which aspects of the unit were more easy or more challenging.
Feedback on the classroom environment and / or climate. Teachers can ask students, at any time, how they feel about their class and how it can be improved. Questions can range from getting opinions about the look and feel of the classroom to the teacher’s manner and behaviour towards the students, for example, whether the students feel safe to answer questions in class, whether they feel that the teacher is approachable and / or supportive of them.
Feedback on the teaching strategies used. It is really worthwhile gathering information on what is working for your students and why. Expect varying answers from students, as there learning preferences and interests do differ. It is possible to include questions relating to the integration of technology here, what do the students think about including technology in their lessons and how you facilitate that. Remember that just because students like a particular teaching strategy, it does not always mean that a teacher should do more of it. Overuse of a particular strategy can have detrimental effects too. It is good, though, to know what teaching strategies students do not like and why. This does not mean that a teacher should avoid what students dislike, as this is not always possible, but we can strive to do things better.
Feedback on your feedback. Ask students about the feedback that they receive from their teacher. Does the feedback help them? Do they understand it? Do they feel they get too much feedback and are overwhelmed by it? Do they feel they have opportunities to use the feedback that their teacher gives them? These are great questions to ask students to gather data about how effective we are in supporting students learn and improve.
When collecting feedback from students, it is not necessary to always use a survey. Conversations are excellent ways to communicate with students and allow them to articulate how they feel about our teaching practice, how we facilitate and support their learning.
Feedback is an important part of the learning process for both teachers and students.
Feedback on the unit or topic just covered in class.
With regards to “which aspects of the unit were more easy or more challenging”, I think this should happen even more regularly than after the end of the unit. I think it’s important to get constant feedback on the degree of difficulty of the material being studied from the students perspective. As well as assessing prior knowledge and understanding, it’s important that students are challenged at an appropriate level. If the material is too easy, many students will be quite content to keep quiet about it. Similarly if the material is too difficult then students may feel insecure in asking questions.
To open up constant dialogue and receive feedback from the students is beneficial for crafting the curriculum to fit the students need, instead of simply ploughing through. Especially at the MYP level, as we have so much opportunity to tailor aspects for the students we work with. Spending time on what’s necessary and challenging for the students, and reducing time spent on things they are already competent and confident with and getting them to appreciate that learning happens when you are working at the cusp of your understanding.