Tuesday, May 22, 2018

School is almost out - reflecting on the past year as a teacher

We are quickly approaching the end of the school year.

The weather is getting warmer, students are getting excited, and teachers are exhausted. It is a time for celebration and reflection.

One thing I always did around this time of the year when I was a teacher was to reflect on the past year. What worked? What went right? What went wrong? How did I handle classroom management issues? How well did my students learn? Lots of questions to answer and get ready for next year. I did this throughout the year too, but this is the point where I really felt I could get some good information and feedback to plan and make changes for the following year.

One thing I did as an evaluation of the year was to have my students fill out a survey about the class and their experience. It asked them to rate things such as was the classroom and equipment (labs and projects) adequate, was enough time given for demonstrations and review, how well did the teacher answer student questions, and their thoughts on assignments and work given. It also asked about me: did I set a climate that was conducive to learning, did I effectively communicate with students, did I address their needs and issues, and were the teaching methods effective. I also have space for them to write comments about what they liked about the class and what they think should be improved. They can put their name on it or it can be anonymous.

I did take the surveys with a grain of salt. Some students wrote all "4" (highest score) and some complain that everything was too hard. But I did get a lot of great feedback and ideas. Some times I was surprised by the level of sophistication that I my students had and how insightful they were about their classes. (I've also used this model with pre-service teachers).

After I had read through all of the surveys and taken notes, I sat and thougt about the whole year. I tried to be critical of things so that I could really evaluate how things went. I would then implement some of the things I'd come up with and some of the things my students noted, but I also kept my lessons flexible so that I can modify them once I've met my students the following year and saw what they are like and what they need. I believed in constantly assessing how I was doing as an educator and how well my students were learning and changing and modifying things as needed throughout the year. The end of the year and summer are great times to come up with lots of different ideas so that I have a collection of ideas to use next year.

I used Google Forms for the survey to get more feedback from the students throughout the year. It was easy to use and easy to analyze the data.

What do you do in your classroom at the end of the year to keep students focused and engaged?
How do you evaluate teaching and learning in your classroom?

What do you do at the end of the year and summer to prep for the next year?



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