My ninth-grade English class last year was a tough one, as you can see from my report on how they evaluated me a year ago — which happened to be reprinted in The Washington Post.

This year, happily, though my two mainstream ninth-grade English classes are not without their challenges, things are much better and similar to previous years. And you can see all of my previous year’s evaluations at The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers). As regular readers know, I announce to students in all my classes that I will publish the results of these anonymous surveys — warts and all — as well as send them directly to colleagues and administrators at our school. I think doing so enhances how seriously students take doing them (by the way, I’ll be sharing evaluations from my other classes over the weekend).

Here’s the evaluation form I use.

I list each question, followed by the results, ending with a short commentary:

1. In this class, I learned…. some a lot a little

Two-thirds in both classes said “a lot” and one-third said “some.” No one said “a little”

I usually get higher than two-thirds saying “a lot,” and even had ninety percent saying it last year in my tough class. The overall academic ability of my students this year is higher than in previous years when I’ve taught a “double-block” of students who generally faced more challenges, so I wonder if my teacher “mindset” might still be in those past classes and underestimating some students who I have this year? Something for me to ponder…

2. I tried my best in this class….a lot of the time all the time some of the time

Half said either a lot of the time or all of the time; the other half said some of the time. Looks like it might be time to review the concept of grit, as well as looking at if perhaps I need to up the challenge level of my lessons.

3. My favorite unit was…. New Orleans Natural Disasters Latin Studies

Here, there was a difference of opinion between classes. My first period class preferred New Orleans, while my fifth period liked Natural Disasters (since I only have them for one period each this year, we haven’t yet gotten to Latin Studies).

I just don’t know the reason behind those preferences.

4. As a teacher, I think Mr. Ferlazzo is… okay good excellent bad

Two-thirds said I was excellent and one-third said I was okay or good. One student said I was bad.

I’m pleased with that rating, which was substantially higher than the one I received last year and is comparable to what I received in previous years.

5. Did you feel that Mr. Ferlazzo was concerned about what was happening in your life? yes no

Four-fifths said yes and one-fifth said no.

I work hard at learning what is happening with students
in other classes and at home. It pays off in lots of ways, and clearly students see that.

6. Mr. Ferlazzo is patient…. some of the time a lot of the time all of the time

Half said some of the time; one-fourth said a lot of the time and one-fourth said all of the time.

I feel I’m pretty patient though, of course, I have some days when I’m more patient than others….

7. Did you like this class? Yes No

Ninety-percent said yes and ten percent said no.

Boy, what a difference a year makes…..

8. Would you want to take another class taught by Mr. Ferlazzo? Yes No

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

I’m a little surprised that the percentage that said yes to this question was lower than the percentage of students who said they liked the class, but I think it’s fine and certainly higher than last year’s responses.

9. What was your favorite activity in this class?
Practice Reading Data Sets Make-and-Breaks Read Alouds Clozes Writing essays Working in groups

As usual, working in groups was the winner — by far.

10. What activity do you think helped you learn the most?
Practice Reading Data Sets Make-and-Breaks Read Alouds Clozes Writing essays Working in groups

Students usually show impressive judgement here in separating what they “like” from what “helps them learn,” and these classes did the same. Data Sets and writing essays topped the list here.

The big surprise, though, was that NO ONE in both classes listed working in groups. I think working in groups can be very helpful, but I think I should rethink how I’m having students do it. Perhaps I’m not maximizing its benefit.

All in all, I’m happy with the results. I think I particularly need to think about doing more challenging lessons, and it appears that I have built up enough relationship “collateral” and goodwill to help make that “step-up” successful.