There has been a missing step in the “end of the school year” routine. Traditionally, a teacher reflects on the student, shares progress, identifies goals, and sends a final report home. This tradition worked well when school was organized as a simple lock-step factory. Thankfully, schools are slowly evolving and some of our traditions are shifting. While I was starting to write my final reports for my students I was curious to know what they thought about my work in the classroom. What were my strengths? What were my challenges? What would be the goals they set for me? They are the ones most impacted by my work so I felt they should have a voice in the matter. I went about creating a simple questionnaire with the help of my older students and during the last week of school shared it with the class. In receiving their responses I was excited to hear what they thought but I was also a little nervous. Perhaps that is the same feeling students have before receiving their progress report. Here are some of my students’ responses:
In what ways have you changed as a learner because of your work this year?
I think I became more confident.
I feel that this year I was much more focused than last year in class.
I changed as a reader because of the IRT Project and Lit class.
My spelling is better.
I changed because I know myself better because you gave us more freedom.
In your opinion, what is one of Tim’s strengths as a teacher?
One of Tim’s strengths is he makes people feel welcome.
His strength is helping people out as much as he can.
Tim is good at pushing us to do harder things.
Tim pushes the limits bit not too far that it gets annoying.
Tim is good at talking for a long time without getting boring.
In your opinion, what is one area that Tim needs to work on as a teacher?
Tim needs to work on not being so stressed about play time.
Tim needs to work on other voices for his read aloud. He has a regular voice and an old lady voice.
Tim needs to work on not talking so fast.
He needs to let us have more typing lessons.
Tim can let us pick some of the read aloud books.
He needs to explain big words more.
What is one classroom experience that Tim should definitely have in the plans for next year?
More genius hours. Every student should have that experience.
Minecraft building for the Oregon Trail.
Dry paint fights.
Keep Morning Meetings, the greetings, and the mind exercises.
Tim should keep doing academic choice.
What is one classroom experience that Tim should not do again?
Do not do self-portraits.
People should not be able to use Minecraft for Genius Hour.
We should have more time to work on the play.
Do not do Tritinas in poetry.
I think that this year was great and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What would your students praise you for? What suggestions would they give? By doing this small but powerful exercise I solidified a year-long mantra, “we are all workers in school and we are all learners.” I willingly offered myself up for reflection to the people who have the most to say about my work as a teacher.