Tuesday, 7 July 2015

End of Term Feedback

Shhh.... Can you hear that?  That's the sound of teachers all over South Australia taking a well earned break. Whether your break is at Cirque du Soleil (like me after school on the last day of term), at a friend's house (like me later that night), at a winery (like me on the weekend), at a professional development conference with one of your students (like me yesterday) or in a coffee shop (like me this morning), or renovating your house (like me ALL the time) I hope you enjoy your break! (Sheesh, after that recap I'm starting to realise why I'm still so tired!)

The end of term is hard for everyone. For some young people the idea of leaving their safe space for a couple of weeks is daunting. For others the lack of social contact over the break is difficult.  I even have a couple of kiddos who miss learning. Woah! Right?!?!  (They are the ones who will read this blog post: you know who you are!)  For me, as a teacher, one of the hardest parts is knowing that it will be two whole weeks before I can act on what I've learnt from the students' end of term feedback about me.  

Yeah yeah, first world teacher problem. Got it.  

So this term I'm going to share some of my reflections about their feedback right here.  

 Let me start by sharing our process.  Each student uses four mini slips of coloured paper and we talk about the kinds of feedback that will be helpful.  (I learnt that the hard way after being told that I should stop wearing jeans which is particularly funny seeing as I've worn jeans to school on approximately 3 occasions EVER.)

It's become a bit of a tradition for me to read the slips on the way home.  I usually read them aloud to my husband and we start to identify trends.  It's a good way to close off the term and start my own reflections.  

There aren't usually many surprises because I seek a LOT of ongoing feedback from my kiddos.  I decided to make word clouds from the feedback this term to see if anything really stood out. 

Nice to see teaching there! I'm not surprised WBW is there (because most of the class really enjoy the organic nature of the activity), and am excited that mentor sentences have popped up. That's something new for me this year.  I'm also really pleased to see so many variations of "pushing me to be the best I can be" and "focusing on what individuals need". 

Fitness is a bit of a no brainer - I have a few vocal boys who ask for this several times a day EVERY day.  Spelling?  We've been talking about various groups needing more explicit spelling lessons so I'm pleased to see this.   I'm sad that I'm not stretching and helping people enough so that's something I can definitely improve on next term. 

There's a fair bit of interest in changing up our lessons too.  I'll take that under advisement and we will get up,  out and about more next term.

This term I've been through some personal challenges and have noticed a change in my own behaviour at school.  The kiddos have clearly noticed too.  I need to stop yelling. I. NEED. TO. STOP. YELLING. It doesn't work anyway. I know that. Time for a change.

Reading and maths aren't something I'm willing (or able) to drop but attending to the attention seeking behaviour and tolerating obnoxious noises are both very fair pieces of feedback.  I am aware of this and have already been making huge efforts to change.  I'll keep plugging away and seek some feedback from my mentors. 

Reading us the curriculum is a strategy I've been using this year when working with the class to develop our own rubrics.  Only one student mentioned it and I recognised their writing so I'll address this personally.

We had a LOT of ongoing projects at the end of the term. It was confusing and overwhelming - even for me.  I think I'll set up a GANNT chart next term so that we can programme our learning better.

Bless their cotton socks for saying nothing. Clearly the prospect of a pizza lunch was getting to them. :)  Another few things here that I'm not in a position to stop and some that I need to address. Shouting rears its head here too. Interesting that it's shouting here but yelling in the previous one. (I wonder if the 3 individuals who said shouting were sitting together?)

I find it interesting that I've been told I'm both strict (something I do well) and give too many chances (something I should stop).  I suppose both are true. I am very clear and consistent in my expectations but/and there are some students who legitimately need more support to make the best choice.   Only 1 student commented that I give too many chances, but I will address this with the whole class early in the term.  

So many important things to think about and learn from!

The kiddos also do a self reflection using the same headings on a single A5 sheet. Fascinating reading, and lots of help in planning for the next term.

Do you have a particular feedback/reflection tool that you use at the end of term?

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 1 Know students and how they learn
Standard 2 Know the content and how to teach it
Standard 3 Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
Standard 4 Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments


  1. I like this idea, I also like to colour code :)
    I will have to try and remember this for the end of term 3 :)

    1. Thanks Jess! I'll see if I can remember to remind you. Maybe between us?