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How My ESL Class Evaluated Me This Semester

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As usual, during the semester finals, I had my students provide anonymous evaluations of classes and me. I always tell them (and always follow-through) that I will be posting the results — warts and all — on my blog and also share it directly with colleagues. I doing that enhances the odds of their taking it seriously. I tell them that I put a lot of time into helping them become better learners, and now it’s their turn to help me become a better teacher.

On Friday, I shared the results from my Theory of Knowledge class. Today, I’ll share the results from my ESL class. I was going to also publish results from my double-block ninth-grade English class, but I must have forgotten the surveys in the classroom. I’ll write about them later this week.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).

Here’s a copy of the anonymous evaluation form I used for this ESL double-block class. It’s a combination of Beginners and Intermediates, and one of the periods is a Geography class, too.

This form is longer than the ones I use for TOK or ninth-grade, so I’m not going to review the answers to every question on it and just highlight what I find to be the most interesting or useful trends:

ESSAYS:
As is almost always the case, students identified writing essays as a task they don’t necessarily “like,” but also rated it very highly as one of the activities they learned from the most.

COMPUTERS: They ranked the time we spend in the computer lab highly as one they liked a lot and also as an activity where they learned a lot (you can see our class blog here). A “twofer” reinforces for the me the amount of time I spend in preparing those activities.

READING AT HOME: Reading at home (I ask students to read a book of their choice for twenty minutes each night) didn’t receive high reviews either under “liking” or “learning.” Most of my students don’t have anyone else at home who speaks English, and I can see how not having someone to help out when they are having difficulties understanding could be a bit frustrating. Since we have so many online resources now where students can read with audio and visual support for the text (and where I can monitor their progress), I think tomorrow I’m going to be more explicit with students that reading online can work just as well. I mentioned that alternative at the beginning of the school year, but I’ve gotten a number of new students since that time.

VIDEOS: “Watching Videos & Talking & Writing About Them” also received good marks in both “liking” and “learning.” It’s a reminder to me that I should consider ways to integrate those activities more fully in our curriculum, and not just use them as a light “filler” now and then.

RATING ME AS A TEACHER: I generally received pretty high marks. Probably the least “high” marks I received came under “Getting To Know Students.” Though I feel I typically do a very good job of this in my classes, I can see that it’s been a lower priority for me in this one. I basically have three levels of English Language Learners, and I spend a lot of time hopping from one group to the next. Nevertheless, there are times I can fit in more conversation with students about their lives and how things are going at home and in their other classes — I just need to keep it more in mind.

PACE OF THE CLASS: Everybody said it’s “just right,” and that’s been my sense, too. Of course, having people in different groups (and being very clear it’s not based on intelligence, just based on how much English people have because of time in this country or time they spent studying it in their native country) helps considerably.

OTHER STUDENT SUGGESTIONS:
Many students say they want to work on their oral skills more. I’ve been trying to include those activities, but it’s a good reminder to expand them.

Any feedback on these results are welcome….

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

3 Comments

  1. Great article! I also have my students to fill out an evaluation at the end of each semester and the results help to guide my instruction. Additionally, each Friday my students complete an evaluation of the week as an exit pass. They summarize their learning, tell me how they used French in and out of class, tell me what was confusing and what helped, and what kinds of activities they would like to do the following week. The results help my weekly planning immensely. Thanks for sharing your results!

  2. I really like the reading at home concept, to further the skills – but I never thought of it being so difficult without other English speakers. Would online books-read-aloud sites work, if they could read and then check?

  3. This was a great article. I haven’t become a teacher yet, I a, working in my degree now. All the stuff you have posted gives me a better understanding and more ideas on what to do when I become a teacher. I really like the in home reading. It gives them a chance to branch out on whatever their taste may be instead of reading just school books. Thanks for sharing!

    Chelsea Strong
    EDM310 Student University of South Alabama

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