Friday, May 13, 2011

Things to keep... Things to change...

Yesterday was my favorite day of the year. It was my annual "Trash Me" day. That is the day that I tell my kids to let me have it, tell me what they liked and dislked about the class, what needs to be kept, and what needs to be revised or even tossed completely. I tell them it's okay to tell me the honest truth and to feel free to tell me that I'm the worst teacher they've ever had and they wouldn't wish me on their worst enemy and I won't take it personally. For me, it's the most rewarding day of the year because the kids really are brutally honest and that's what allows me to grow from year to year. I start out by asking them to get out a piece of paper, then they free write for a few minutes. Then, I open it up to verbal discussion and write their comments on the board.

Here are some of their comments:
- Really liked working with a group/partner, but many felt they were too dependent on their partner, so they struggled when working independently. (My response: This year is the first year I've gone to almost a completely active classroom. As a result, the students worked on labs and activities almost daily to learn the material. While I did appreciate the reduced dependence on me as the teacher, I
did not anticipate the increased dependence on their groupmates.)

- Students felt the Gallery Walk activity was very successful. It forced them to read over the previous groups work and look for error and to see different ways that other students did the steps. (My response: I'm glad they felt this was useful, I had never used it before and now I will try to find ways to use it more often)

- Students appreciated that homework was only required for remediation/reassessments. The majority felt that we worked so hard in class (remember, they are the ones working, I don't lecture much at all), so additional homework they felt was unnecessary for most students. However, they did recognize that sometimes they needed to work more on a concept in order to really get it. (My response: I totally agreed with them here)

- One suggestion they had was to do more FR questions at a time. We do a weekly Free Response question, but many of them requested a monthly/quarterly Free Response practice that was multiple FRs at a time over mixed topics to help them prepare on pacing and seeing multiple topics at a time. (My response: I think this is a great suggestion and I will definitely implement it for next year)

Overall, I really appreciated their honest feedback and I will admit that this is the first year that I've had more positive comments than negative comments. I always learn so much from their suggestions and feel that this is one of the best growth opportunities for me from year to year. Now that the AP exam is said and done, I love reflecting on my year and planning for next year :)


vantv said...
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vantv said...

Great reflection...I am going into my second year of teaching. I was a little heavy on the lecturing in my Alg 2 class and am looking at trying to take more of an active learning "guide on the side" approach. when you talk about your labs, does that involve students going through examples together and kind of learning together rather than you going through it as a whole class? Or do you have a introduce new topics some other way. I know you use lots of activities, but students need to know how to do the material first right? Thanks in advance! Your blog is great!