As regular readers know, at least twice each year I have students in all my classes anonymously evaluate the class and me (they also do a self-evaluation that, 95% of the time, turns into their grade. Here’s the form they usually use). In addition, they know ahead of time that I publish the results and also send them to my colleagues and administrators — warts and all (I believe that helps ensure that they will take it seriously). And believe, there have been some warts, primarily in the mainstream two-hour class of ninth-graders who face many challenges that I often teach. And, wouldn’t you know it, one that had a fair number of “warts” was picked-up and republished by The Washington Post last year!
Posts about my past student evaluations can all be found at The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers). I’ve also included a number of other resources related to student evaluations, including commentaries about how I think “school reformers” are, as usual, wanting to take such a helpful idea, turn it into a destructive one, and crush the life out of it.
In today’s post, I’d like to specifically focus on the most recent student evaluations in my English Language Learner classes. I also thought readers might be interested in evaluations of my previous ELL classes (links to those summaries can be found at the end of this post).
I used different forms this than in the past, just to try something new. Here are ones I used:
And, if you’re interested, here’s a copy of the evaluation form I’ve used previously in my ELL classes.
I’ve always learned a lot from the student evaluations, and believe I’ve become a much better teacher than I would have been if I hadn’t used them.
This past semester was no exception, and I’ll be making some adjustments this semester.
I’m not going to review all the questions and answers, but I’ll highlight a few:
ELD ENGLISH CLASS (by the way, we use the term “ELD” for English Language Development instead of ESL):
I generally view the first question (“I have learned…a lot…some….a little…in this class) to be one of the most important ones, and every student except one circled “a lot.” That’s a good sign.
As usual, students picked “writing essays” as their least favorite part of the class. And, as usual, they also chose “writing essays” as the activity that they’ve learned the most from doing.
Also, as usual, they chose using the computers as their most favorite part of the class. And, as usual, they’ve chosen using the computers as the activity that they’ve learned the least from doing. This is a regular response, and each year I try to change and refine the online activities that we use, but it practically always comes in last as far as its learning value. Of course, I’m not necessarily convinced that students are always the best judge of what is most useful to them, but it continues to be perplexing to me.
Usually, the overwhelming response to “The pace of this class is….” is “just right.” However, this year, two-thirds said “just right” and one-third said “too fast” (No one said “too slow”). This may be attributable to the fact that I believe I have a wider range in English-levels than I’ve had in the past. I’ve already acted on this concern by dividing-up the class into “academic vocabulary” groups that are based on English-level, and this activity has quickly become one of the favorite lessons — if not THE favorite time — for the entire class. I’ve written an extensive description of this activity for Edutopia, and they should be publishing it within the next two weeks. I think ELL teachers might find it very helpful.
I received all A’s in “patience,” “organization,” “knowledge,” and “hardworking.” However, under “Caring:Does He Care About Your Life Outside Of School?”, half the class gave me an A and most of the others gave me a B (along with one C and one D). I was surprised at that at first. However, after thinking about it, it’s probably accurate to say a number of students in my other classes are facing much more severe challenges than most of my ELL students, and a lot of extra energy is going towards them. I think it’s easy for many of us to forget about the students who are doing okay and focus on the ones with more difficulties. I’ve begun to respond to this concern by making positive calls home to many of my ELL students during these past couple of weeks, and they’ve really liked it…
Every student said they’d want to take another class with me in the future.
Another nice, though not unexpected, result from the evaluation is that all students felt very positive about two student teachers who are spending part of their time with our class.
ELL GEOGRAPHY CLASS:
I was a bit more surprised at some of the results from my ELL Geography class, and am still reflecting on them…
Two-thirds of the students said they learned “a lot” while one-third said they learned “some.” That’s a disappointing result to me, and worse than what I usually get from this class. The two major changes I’ve made to what I typically do is to try to integrate a little more of the mainstream Geography curriculum, which is quite good, and to incorporate the use of “sister” classes from throughout the world. I would have thought that those two additions would have solidified a high ranking for “learned a lot” and not a lower one.
One other change I’ve made is to have students make a lot more presentations to the class, either through using a “jigsaw” activity where students divide up parts of an article or chapter we’ve read and make short PowerPoint and verbal presentations to the entire class, or through country or “culture reports” (see student examples here on our class blog). I’m explaining this because I was pleased, and surprised, to see that student rated these presentations as their most favorite activity and the one they felt from which they learned the most. In fact, several students said they wanted to make even more presentations.
Again, in this class like the English class, I was surprised to see that two-thirds thought the pace was just right and one-third thought it was too fast. Of course, the student make-up of both classes is almost identical, with just a few additional students in the Geography one. I’ve got to think more about how to respond to this challenge here.
Everyone gave me an “A” and everyone said they would want me as a teacher again. I did, however, receive even a lower ranking than in my English class about being concerned about student lives outside of class. I’m hoping those phone calls home will make a difference.
My biggest disappointment, though, is that students seem to be pretty indifferent to the sister classes we’ve been working with in the countries we’ve been studying. I definitely need to find out more from them and see what adjustments I might be able to make. I think it’s a great learning opportunity, and I want to maximize its effect.
HERE ARE LINKS TO EVALUATIONS FROM MY PREVIOUS ELL CLASSES
Comments from readers are welcome!