Seeing as my students have to endure my presence, instructions, and bad jokes for 3 hours and 45 minutes each week, I figure the least I can do is give them an opportunity to tell me how I can make this task a little easier for them. In my first year of teaching I knocked together the below form. I’ve used it for a year now and it’s been really helpful to date. In particular, it’s helped me to bring more celebration into my classroom, with many students over the past year indicating that they want their successes to be celebrated more (usually with lollies!).
This has been great, but as I’ve moved into my role as head of senior maths this year it’s prompted me to think more strategically about student feedback, and the role it can play in my own, and my team’s professional development.
No feedback form is going to tell a teacher, or a team leader, everything they need to know in terms of ‘Where am I going? How am I going? Where to next?’, but I’ve been feeling more and more as thought these forms do have a key role to play in helping teachers to spot gaps, and motivating and inspiring us to improve our praxis.
I was really happy with the willingness of my team to roll out the above form (Obviously with ‘Ollie’ changed to their individual names) in their own classes, and the insights gained were very illuminating. But coupling these feedback forms with my own observations provided and even bigger insight for me. It surprised me just how differently student (novices when it comes to principles of instruction) and I (a relative expert) view what happens in a classroom.
From this it’s became more apparent to me that if I want student feedback to more effectively drive my own professional development, I need to start asking better and more targeted questions that will allow me to see exactly where my teaching is excelling, and where I’m falling short.
So, here’s a first draft of the new feedback questions (which I’ll eventually turn into a google form). I’ve based it off the Sutton Trust’s article What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research, headed up by Robert Coe. I’ve used the first four out of the six “common components suggested by research that teachers should consider when assessing teaching quality.” (p. 2). These are the components rated as having ‘strong’ or ‘moderate’ evidence of impact on student outcomes, and they’re also the components with observable outcomes in the classroom (5 and 6 are ‘Teacher Beliefs’ and ‘Professional Behaviours’, which encapsulate practices like reflecting on praxis and collaborating with colleagues).
For each of the following I’ll get students to rate the sentence from 1, strongly disagree, to 5, strongly agree, in the hope that this will give me a better idea of how students interpret the various components of my teaching and teacher disposition.
I’ll also add a question at the end along the lines of ‘Is there anything else you’d like to add?’.
I’ve numbered the Qs to make it easy for people to make comments about them on twitter. This is a working document and today is the second day of our 2 week Easter break. I’m keen to perfect this as much as possible prior to Term 2. Please have a read and I’d love your thoughts and feedback : )
Link to Twitter discussion here.
Four (of the 6) components of great teaching (Coe et al., 2014).
|1. (Pedagogical) content knowledge (Strong evidence of impact on student outcomes)
The most effective teachers have deep knowledge of the subjects they teach, and when teachers’ knowledge falls below a certain level it is a significant impediment to students’ learning. As well as a strong understanding of the material being taught, teachers must also understand the ways students think about the content, be able to evaluate the thinking behind students’ own methods, and identify students’ common misconceptions.
|1.1 Ollie has a deep understanding of the maths that he teaches you. He really ‘knows his stuff’.
1.2 Ollie has a good understanding of how students learn. He really ‘knows how to teach’.
|2. Quality of instruction (Strong evidence of impact on student outcomes)
Includes elements such as effective questioning and use of assessment by teachers. Specific practices, like reviewing previous learning, providing model responses for students, giving adequate time for practice to embed skills securely
and progressively introducing new learning (scaffolding) are also elements of high quality instruction.
|2.1 Ollie clearly communicates to students what they need to be able to do, and how to do it.
2.2 Ollie asks good questions of the class. His questions test our understanding and help us to better understand too.
2.3 Ollie gives us enough time to practice in class.
2.4 The different parts of Ollie’s lessons are clear. Students know what they should be doing at different times throughout Ollie’s lessons.
2.5 The way that Ollie assesses us helps both us and him to know where we’re at, what we do and don’t know, and what we need to work more on.
2.6 Ollie spends enough time revisiting previous content in class that we don’t forget it.
|3. Classroom climate (Moderate evidence of impact on student outcomes)
Covers quality of interactions between teachers and students, and teacher expectations: the need to create a classroom that is constantly demanding more, but still recognising students’ self-worth. It also involves attributing student success to effort rather than ability and valuing resilience to failure (grit).
|3.1 Students in Ollie’s class feel academically safe. That is, they don’t feel they’ll be ridiculed if they get something wrong.
3.2 Students in Ollie’s class feel socially safe. That is, Ollie promotes cooperation and support between students and he’ll step in if he thinks a student is being picked on by other students.
3.3 Ollie cares just as much about students doing their best and trying hard as he does about them being ‘smart’ or getting high results.
3.4 Ollie cares about every student in his class.
3.5 Ollie has high expectations of us and what we can achieve.
|4. Classroom management (Moderate evidence of impact on student outcomes)
A teacher’s abilities to make efficient use of lesson time, to coordinate classroom resources and space, and to manage students’ behaviour with clear rules that are consistently enforced, are all relevant to maximising the learning that can take place. These environmental factors are necessary for good learning rather than its direct components.
|4.1 Ollie manages the class’ behavior well so that we can maximize our time spent learning.
4.2 There are clear rules and consequences in Ollie’s class.
4.3 Ollie is consistent in applying his rules.
4.4 The rules and consequences in Ollie’s class are fair and reasonable, and they help to support our learning.
4.5 Students work hard in Ollie’s class.