Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Hot Seat

A few weeks ago I had a classroom observation done on me. It was not like a pop quiz or anything like that. I even picked the date that I would have my evaluation. After the observation my students took an anonymous survey and today I got the results of both the observation and the survey....

Both were very good and as a new techer it is really great to get such positive feedback. I was even given a few helpful ideas from the observer and the students about slowing down sometimes when I am talking, giving more consistent feedback on a regular basis to build confidence and changing up classroom time from time to time to confront boredom.

For some reason though things like this always get me so depressed. I have never been one to say, If I can just reach one student then my job is done. I know I may never reach them all but I've got to be able to do more than one!

On these surveys the students fill out I was above three on all of them on a scale of 1 to 4, this is great right!?!?! But when I read the breakdown of those numbers at times there were three students saying that I needed much improvement on something depending on the category. I was also given written comments and while most were positive and some were helpful there was one in each section that was just bad.

Now to be honest I have to admit I dont know why that one student would continue to take my class, this is college, you can drop!

And why would I let one unhelpful negative comment destroy what is otherwise very positive feedback with places to improve and some places where I am already doing well??????

It is more than wanting everyone to like me....I genuinely believe that what I teach is necessary to being critical citizens of the world. I realize most nursing or economy majors will say that art history does not make them a better nurse...but I think it does. Ask me anyday when my life is in the hands of a doctor and I can choose between the one that took art history and the one that didn't and I would pick the one that did. The arts help you to observe, they give a way to express ones self and ideas, art can be a window into a cultre or community and often times it is about relationships and critical issues. It is visible thought porcess. I can't think of a single major or life event that is not made better with these skills!

So where do I go from here? Try to make that one student happy (that is probably not possible)!

So I will be commenting more in their weekly journals so that they are getting that constant feeedback and building confidence. I will be trying to think of more interactive assignments to do during group discussion time to keep it all going. The big one for me is going to be framing each lesson so they are not guessing at why we are doing what we are doing. That means sometimes force feeding the connections and then letting them discover other personal connections!

This is harder than it looks!


Jenny! said...

That is great that you got a good eval and comments. I know another new teacher that didn't get a very good eval and prob. won't have a job next year...any guesses??? It is never possible to make everyone happy or make everyone like you or everyone understand, some people are just dumb...that's how you should look at the students that gave you bad feedback or were negative...they are just plain stupid!

Newmania said...

Rubbish teaching is money for old rope , you get to boss around a load of kids ..hard ? Then you take holidays forever and you can`t be fired.

Well done, you are on easy street now , you just have to kick back and enjoy it a bit more

You are quite attractive by the way is a wierd sort of ,of beat way. You have charm as well . All is all i don`t mind you all that much


Sarah said...

Thanks Jenny are you talking about a certain someone we know who eats a lot??

And to Newmania, thanks for commenting but you may note by the many other blogs I have posted here that I am not really interested in taking it easy or bossing around kids...

David said...

Sarah, thanks for dropping by my blog! I just got an evaluation from an assistant principal who didn't know what she was talking about :) No, seriously. She didn't. There was a memo in my box yesterday from the principal letting me know that the other assistant principal would be doing my evaluations from now on! Victory! (I had returned a corrected version of the evaluation!)

Don't worry about the negative feedback if your self analysis tells you it is incorrect. But, you have to be honest! Some kids don't fill out their comment forms honestly for motivations completely unrelated to the teaching. I was in a class where a student threatened the professor with a bad evaluation if she didn't structure the final how he wanted!

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Doctor Pion said...

Those are excellent evaluations.

Sorry, but you can't reach every student. Heck, at our CC there is usually one you can't reach because they never (I mean never) attend class. One term for these is "insurance majors". They have to be enrolled in college to be covered by their parents insurance, get Pell grants, serve their probation, whatever.

However, even though you can't reach every student, you still have to try to find that different angle that will reach that one who is just there to finish off a required credit. You should look below the surface of those few negative comments and see what you might glean from them, but do not obsess over them.