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How Students Evaluated Me This Year

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As regular readers know, at the end of each first semester and at the end of each school year my students complete an anonymous evaluation of the class and me. I share the results with my colleagues and post them here. You can see previous results — along with other links related to students evaluating teachers — at The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).

Yesterday was the last day of our school year, though I had students complete their evaluations late last week (we start losing people who go to Mexico early).

Here are the results:

U.S. History Classes

I taught two U.S. History classes — one comprised of all Intermediate ELL’s and the other a broad combination of Advanced, Intermediate and Beginning ELL’s (the combo class is about twice the size of the first one). You can download a copy of the form I used here. In almost every instance, the responses were similar to those in my first semester evaluation. So I won’t repeat them all, but you can read the answers at that previous post. As they were in last semester, though both classes were generally positive, the students in the all Intermediate class were almost universally very positive while the other class was slightly more mixed.

Clearly the class size and its mixture of English levels (and how I handled both) in the second class had an effect on student experience. I made a few of the adjustments I wrote about at the end of the first semester, but — at least based on the evaluations — they did not affect student perception. But, as I said, they were generally very positive and the vast majority of students clearly enjoyed the class and got a lot out of it. So, I’m not going to beat myself about it :)

When I teach U.S. History again (which won’t be next year), though, and if I get a group that requires a similarly large amount of differentiation, I’m really going to try to rack my brain and experiment more with the higher-level English students teaching the Beginners (see
The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates). I think finding a way to incorporate this strategy more could have a major positive effect on both groups’ learning experience. The key challenge for me in implementing this is trying to balance having the time to “cover” all the necessary content with wanting to ensure that everyone actually learns it. Even this year we only got to the year 1972. Unlike students who have been born in the U.S. or have been here a few more years, this was the first time any of my students learned anything about United States History. That complete lack of previous knowledge — which I find to be an exciting challenge and opportunity as a teacher — also means it takes time to introduce a lot of the “basics.”

By the way, students in both classes really like using our class blog, and others might find it helpful, too. It’s pretty extensive.

Beginning & Intermediate English Class

For the first time this year, we combined Beginners and Intermediates into a one period, two hour class. Here’s a copy of the anonymous evaluation form I used.

As in last semester’s evaluation, the evaluations were very positive and comments were very similar. I won’t repeat them all here, but I do want to highlight two in particular:

* In last semester’s post, I found this:

Students ranked me high in most teaching qualities. However, I was surprised to see that the qualities where I received the lowest (though still relatively high) marks were in “patience” and “is organized and prepared.” Since I think those are two of my strongest areas, I’m not sure what to make of it. There is such a wide range of English proficiency in the class, and this is the first year we’ve tried to do a combined Intermediate/Beginner class, things can be a little hectic trying to balance it all. I wonder if that contributes to my appearing to have less patience and being less prepared? Or, on the other hand, maybe I am just less patient and less prepared than I think I am? I’ve got to think about this a little more.

This time, my ratings in patience and organization were both much higher. I believe that is due to my getting more comfortable with such a diverse class and getting a better handle on how to teach more effectively in that setting.

* In a less positive note, during the first semester Beginning students really liked using the Picture Word Inductive Model. Unfortunately, sometimes you can have too much of a “good” thing. It was clear to me that mid-way through the second semester students were growing tired of it (and they indicated that in this most recent evaluation) and I then switched to other photo-related strategies I share in The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons. Next year (I am teaching this class again), I’ll make that switch earlier, probably at the beginning of the second semester.

Students were very positive about the use of our class blog, and others might find it helpful, too.

IB Theory Of Knowledge Class

I always love teaching Theory of Knowledge, and the experience just keeps on getting better and better as we’re able to incorporate more and more non-IB Diploma candidates into it. As is usually the class, students greatly enjoy the class, and their final comments were similar to the ones they made in the first semester.

I think two points are worth highlighting:

* Students heavily emphasized how much they developed their presentation skills. That was heartening, because I had put a greater emphasis on the idea of storytelling (see more resources about that here).

* After my TOK students did a “What If?” project (see The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons), I made arrangements with their other teachers to come into my bigger U.S. History class and help them create similar projects. That was a rousing success, and both classes loved doing it (you can see photos of the event here). Next year, I hope to do similar events on TOK topics once a quarter, with my TOK students coming into one of my other classes to help with a higher-level lesson.

TOK students found our class blog helpful, and others might want to check it out.

As always, I’d love to hear reader reflections on this post. And if you do similar evaluations with your students, please share your experiences in the comments section.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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