Each year I have students anonymously evaluate their class and me, and they always help me become a better teacher. I also share the results in this blog. You can find past posts on this topic at My Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).

Our school year ended yesterday, and it’s time for me to begin share this year’s results. I’m also including links to downloadable versions of the surveys I had students complete.

I’ll be writing a more extensive post and Teacher Magazine article about what these results and my own reflections will be causing me to do differently next year. Feel free to share your own planned changes at What Will You Do Differently Next School Year?

I taught three classes this year — two of them were “double periods.” I’ll be writing three separate posts — one about each class.

Today, I’ll begin with my mainstream ninth-grade English class.

This double-period class, comprised of students who need extra support, is always my most challenging one. In fact, I think that all the posts I’ve written about classroom management are based on my experiences each year in this class. It’s one that I would never willingly give-up, though. We use a curriculum and instructional strategies developed by Kelly Young and his extraordinary Pebble Creek Labs.

In addition to completing this evaluation form, I have students write a letter to next year’s ninth-graders. This example is indicative of what was included in the letters my students wrote this year — it shows how carefully students can observe their teachers:

Mr. Ferlazzo is a very patient teacher, he doesn’t use an angry tone to keep you from being loud. Unless you finally go a bit overboard and he’ll tick off a bit but not for long — probably 20 seconds.

Here are some of the key results from the evaluation:

1. In this class, I learned…

The results from this first question were very interesting. Earlier this week, I posted about an experiment I did this year by giving this same evaluation two weeks ago and then right when school was ending. The results were the same, except for the answers to this question. The first time, the answers were divided evenly between “some” and “a lot.” The second time, after students completed a self-assessment reflecting on their work (I share the details in this post), the answers were one-third saying “some” and “two-thirds” saying a lot.

2. I tried my best in this class…

One third said “a lot of the time,” one-third said “all of the time” and one third say “some of the time.”

3. My favorite unit was...

Natural Disasters was the clear winner, with Jamaica coming in second. This was a surprise because usually Jamaica is far and away the favorite.

4. My least favorite unit was…

Mount Everest was the big “winner” here.

5. As a teacher, I think Mr. Ferlazzo is…

One-fifth said “okay,” one-fifth said :good,” two-fifths said “excellent,” and one-fifth said “bad.” This is the largest percentage of “bad” ratings I’ve ever received. I felt like I was more academically demanding — by far — this year than I’ve ever been. I wonder if that might have contributed to some of those negative ratings? I’m going to think about how I can enforce the same level of accountability, but perhaps with a little less of an “edge.” Obviously, there may be other reasons, too, and I need to reflect on what they might be.

6. Did you feel that Mr. Ferlazzo was concerned about what was happening in your life?

Two-thirds said “yes” and one-third said “no.”

7. Mr. Ferlazzo is patient:

Two-thirds said “some of the time” and one-third said “a lot of the time.”

8. Did you like this class?

Two-thirds said “yes” and one-third said “no.” Again, this is the highest number of negative responses to this question that I’ve ever received.

9. What was your favorite activity in this class?

As usual, “Working In Groups” was number one and “Practice Reading” was number two. Practice Reading is the fifteen minutes at the beginning of each class where students can read a book of their choice. “Clozes” were the surprising number three choice. These are “fill-in-the-gap” activities where students have to write-in the correct word in blanks strategically located within a short passage. In the past, clozes have not been very popular. This year, I think I was able to help students view them as more of a puzzle to complete — instead of a typical assignment — and I think that made the difference.

Lots of food for thought.

Please share in the comments your reactions, and if you do anything similar with your own classes.

Next week, I’ll be writing about the other “grades” I’ve received.