As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this past year I joined the College of Education at California State University, Sacramento, as an adjunct faculty member to teach credential candidates about working with English Language Learners.
The course was the last eight weeks of the first semester, and the last eight weeks of the spring semester. It was a good experience, and I’ll be continuing next year, especially now because I’ve done it once (though it is tough teaching for three hours in the evening after being at high school all day!)
Students are asked to complete an online evaluation, which I eventually see, but I was also interested in getting more immediate feedback on questions that I cared most about. So, as I do in my high school classes, I asked my twenty-seven University students to answer a few questions anonymously. I told them that I would share summaries of their responses with my university colleagues and post them publicly here, as I have done with all my high school classes for the past eight years (see The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers)).
I did the same during first semester, and you can read How My University Students Evaluated Me This Semester.
Here are the four questions I asked, along with summaries, quotes and my own commentaries on the responses:
1. What did you like about the class?
I had asked students during the first class what they would like to learn during this second semester, and many said they would like to learn strategies that could be helpful to English Language Learners and also applicable to non-ELLs. As the saying goes, “Good teaching for ELLs is good teaching for everybody,” but I was more explicit about the idea in the second semester, and students seemed to appreciate it:
I like that Professor Ferlazzo gave us more strategies for scaffolding our lessons to meet the unique needs of ELs at varying skill levels. Last semester, I walked away feeling like I had mainly learned about sentence starters and round robin presentations, but this semester I fell like I gained many strategies that will allow all of my students to construct their own knowledge of the concepts I need them to learn. Thank you for responding to our feedback by making this adjustment.
Several students also were very positive about the emphasis I placed on group work:
I enjoyed the fact that most of the class was group learning and not lecture.
They were also appreciative that I was aware of assignment deadlines in other classes:
I appreciated that there weren’t too many stressful assignments and that you were award of PACT (their entire program’s culminating project) deadlines so you could schedule accordingly.
Videos also seemed to be a hit:
I liked the videos that were shown in this class. They demonstrated some very helpful teaching strategies that were modeled in the classroom.
Students liked the very practical readings, many which were excerpts from my books and articles (which they didn’t have to purchase):
I could see how to actually apply the readings to my subject matter each week, with useful suggestions for all students, not just ELLs, unlike last semester’s readings.
And, as they were during the first semester, students were universally appreciative of the snacks my wife purchased and insisted I bring each class
2. How could the class be improved?
These responses were all over the place and often contradictory.
Several said they appreciated the group work, but think it should be done in a more varied way. I think that’s a very good point.
Others said there should be less group work and more lecture from me.
Some said they liked the simple and straight-forward reading response questions, while others said they would have appreciated more variety in them. I think that’s a good point.
Several commented that they would have liked getting some of the materials earlier (due to circumstances beyond my control, sometimes I wasn’t able to receive course materials until right before the class though, at the same time, I have to say my colleagues bent over backward to support me):
Not your fault, but getting the course work/syllabus early.
3. How would you evaluate Professor Ferlazzo as an instructor?
Comments and “grades” seemed to be a bit more positive than the first semester (which were not at all negative), which reflects my own reflection on how I did.
About two-thirds of the class actually gave me a grade. Out of those, three-fourths gave me a B and the rest gave me an A or an A+, while one gave me a C.
Here are some comments:
A+ : relateable, knowledgeable, fun, understanding, accommodating
Ferlazzo is very approachable to helping students and is a fair grader. He would allow students to students to submit late-work or re-submit for changes.
I felt Professor Ferlazzo showed very little enthusiasm for teaching this course. He often seemed irritated to be here, but that may just be his sarcastic personality, which I admittedly enjoy at times.
Great dry humor. Let’s try out activities in class instead of just talking about them [My response – we did do a fair amount of that, but it’s a good point to keep in mind for the future. I can certainly do more].
Mr. Ferlazzo was personable and understanding, but I was frustrated at how late he received the material for this class. This wasn’t his fault, but it made him seem less knowledgeable.
I feel like you know more and have more potential than you are presenting and teaching in class. This could be a online course seeing as we come to class to read and share a thought on the reading.
More informed than last semester.
You seem like a perfectly competent instructor.
Larry Ferlazzo is a good instructor and has a lot of knowledge about his content. Because of how the class was structured, there was a lot of flexibility, which was appreciated.
Very nice instructor.
I would rate Prof. Ferlazzo as a pretty good instructor. His field experience and real world situations bring huge value to the class.
4. How would you compare this class with the fall session?
Everybody except three students said they though this spring semester was better than the fall (two said they were equal and one said fall was better):
The workload is lighter without sacrificing the learning, and we all had a general idea of what was expected of us from the start.
Explaining language objectives was solid in the fall and deeper learning was great to know in the spring. Thank you!
Favorably. Teaching strategies were modeled and practiced and can be transferred into our classrooms.
Much, much better than the fall. There were no comments and feelings of complete uselessness like last semester.
More favorably. Felt like it was more relevant and you were more prepared.
One major assignment was appreciated.
A lot to think about!