As regular readers know, I’ve been a big proponent of having my high school students write regular anonymous evaluations, which I publish here – warts and all.
You can find all of those reports, as well as reflective articles on the use and misuse of student evaluations, at Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).
Since I’ve begun teaching a class-a-week to credential candidates, I’ve begun applying the same practice:
This past fall semester, I posed four questions to students in my class on teaching English Language Learners:
What did you like about this class?
How could this class be improved?
What grade would you give Larry Ferlazzo?
What would you like to learn next semester [it’s a two-part course]?
Here are the results, along with a little of my own reflection:
- What did you like about this class?
My Summary: Students clearly appreciated the many practical tips and stories I provided, and the fact that we actually practiced the instructional strategies as part of the class. They appreciated that class time was organized. Students reall appreciated having exemplars of assignments from previous classes. They also liked the resources I was able to provide through this blog, and loved the cookies and snacks my wife made me bring to each class 🙂
Here are some quotes:
I like that you offered lots of practical advice that we could use i our classes the next day and that you made it clear that this advice was grounded in theory and research.
I liked that you are precise in your timing, like a German train.
I liked the useful class tips and your willingness to skip out crap you felt not needed.
- How could this class be improved?
My Summary: A common theme, and a justifiable one, was needing to have better organization of materials in the class site on the university’s learning management system (Blackboard). One student characterized it as a “disaster,” though most didn’t go quite that far. I would agree, however, that it could have been a lot better. Last year’s class criticized occasional lateness of getting materials online – that wasn’t an issue at all this year. So now it’s time for me to move to the next step of getting it more organized.
Another common critique, which echoes ones from last year, was the sheer number of assignments. Last year’s concerns resulted in our being able to reduce the assignments in the second semester, but we didn’t eliminate or move any from the first semester. All the assignments are important – I think I’ll raise with my colleagues the possibility of seeing if we could move one to the second semester. A couple of students also suggested making this half-semester class a full semester one, though I suspect that is a less workable suggestion.
Several students also commented that they felt some of the reading and the requested reading responses were not particularly useful, and that the PowerPoints should be revised – all worth discussing with my colleagues.
Another suggestion was creating more time during class to work on assignments.
Here are some quotes:
This course required more time outside of class than any other in terms of workload and Ifelt the reading responses made me do less quality work on the assignment that matter.
SacCT [Blackboard] was a disaster if I’m being brutally honest. The descriptions of the weekly folders were convoluted and not concise.
- What grade would you give Larry Ferlazzo?
My Summary: Sixty percent of the class gave me either an A+, A or A-; everybody else gave me a either a B+, B or B- (except for one person who gave me a C+). These are higher grades than I received the first year I taught it, and reflects both my increased comfort with teaching the class (and enjoying it more!) and applying some of the suggestions from last year’s students.
Here are some quotes:
Larry is a kind and knowledgeable teacher with the experience and reputation of a seasoned professional.
I would grade you with an A becaue you tried to make class fund and engaging, and you genuinely cared about our individual situations.
- What would you like to learn next semester?
Here are some of the suggestions – all will be easy to include:
Practical applications on how to deal with varying levels and varying languages in a single class period without losing your mind – actual tools, not theory.
I would like to learn about advocacy for ELLs. It might be beyond the scope of this class, but when doing the case study I was really floored by how bad the services are at my school, and would love to learn how we as teachers can advocate for more robust services.
I would like to learn more about educating and supporting long-term ELLs.
Specific ways to encourage motivation and enthusiasm with ELLs and all students.
I would like to learn more EL strategies that pertain specifically to my content area.
How to get students to talk when no students want to talk.
All in all, it was a very good fall semester and I’m looking forward to the spring!