The Importance of Teacher, Parent and Student-Self Evaluations using Google Forms
Most of you reading this at this current moment in time (June 2020) are done with your school year. Many have been done for a month, but it's important to think about the concept of reflection ALL school year. In my class, I have the students evaluate ME, my class, and themselves throughout the year. All of these evaluations are very eye-opening.
In college, I remember at the end of my courses, my professors would hand out evaluation forms. These forms were questions with fill-in bubbles containing questions about the professor. As an educator, I've thought back to those days and realized this is something we should be doing with younger kids!
I am sure many of you dread the idea of your students evaluating you, especially in middle school when they are very self-focused. You definitely have to go into this knowing that there will be kids who say things that will upset or offend you, but you probably won't be surprised by the particular students who may say those things. I've done these for a few years now and I've had a handful but not many because our relationships are always very respectful.
If you think what you are doing in your classroom from year-to-year is perfect and nothing needs to change then you really need to reflect on your attitude about teaching. As teachers, we should always be growing and adapting, especially as generations change. If you've been teaching the exact same way and the exact same literature for 20 years, you're not really teaching for where kids are going into the future. That's not to say that there aren't some tried and true methods that absolutely need to be done each year, but honestly, I've probably changed SOMEthing about what and how I teach each year.
Also, I would hope that you want your students to respect and learn from you, right? Of course you are going to get students, no matter what you do, won't appreciate what you do. Teaching middle school can be a very thankless job at times. There may be some truth in the statements that make you mad, but give yourself some grace in knowing that they are still kids and don't have the life experience you do.
The best format, in my opinion is using Google Forms. I like to give this survey twice a school year; once mid-year and once at the end. I change up the questions.
So what should you write in this survey? Well, stay away from personal questions...that's asking for your feelings to be hurt. Keep it academic. Use a scale. When creating the question on Google Forms, you'd want to select "Linear scale".
Some of the topics I have for these questions are (doing a scale from "poor" to "excellent"):
Makes learning interesting
Enthusiastic about teaching and content
Genuine concern for students
Treats students with respect
I have quite a bit more than that, but it gives you an idea. I follow up with about 8 write-in questions with topics such as:
Favorite/least favorite unit
Areas of improvement
If you are wondering how I made that banner at the top check out this tech tip! Just a general thing you may want to do when you make Google Forms...it just livens them up a bit!
You can find this survey here to edit to meet your needs!
What to do with the results...
Change EVERYTHING! Just kidding...look at it as data. Here are some of the results I got this year (keep in mind we had distance learning for 3 months).
Some of these stung, but they definitely got me thinking. Why did those 2 students score me so low for "concerning about students"? When I looked back at who said it, one of them was a student who genuinely refused to do any work all year and I did SO much to help her...from her perspective, I suppose it seemed like I didn't care. So, maybe I need to rethink how I approach those "lazy" students. I thought I did everything right, but it clearly stuck with her.
Also, it was clear my students hated the literary essay unit. Well, guess what, I hate teaching it! I really don't know how to make essays more interesting and that is going to be a new goal for me. Reality is, not everything in life can be roses, so there will be times students will just have to deal with material that's a little bland...but I don't know, I just can't dig that. I want to make it worthwhile!
The one comment about me having little enthusiasm really threw me. However, that was the ONLY comment like that, so, I kind of just shrugged that off. (And if you knew the kid, that's kind of his deal...can't really like anything because that's not "cool").
So, you just have to realize that you obviously can't and won't change everything based on what they say, but it's something you should certainly reflect on!
These are just as important! I am kind of mad at myself because I hardly did any this year. We got so busy and I told myself they didn't really need to do them. I was wrong. They do. It's so important for students to reflect on their OWN work.
Here are some ways I've done these with my students:
General feelings about ELA (beginning of the year). You can find this here! I give this to students at the beginning of the school year. It helps me get to know their thoughts on reading and how they feel about their abilities.
End of marking period. There is more to this survey, but I like to just add some ways they feel they can improve for the following marking period. If I am really on top of things, I like to check back in later to see if they really met their goals!
End of unit. I don't do this for every unit, but it's nice to see how they feel they've done after a unit was finished.
End of school year. This is a great way to let their next year's teacher know how the student felt about his/her performance throughout the year. You can find this survey here.
What's great about these also is that you can see what student attitudes are about themselves. If they have a really low self-awareness or low self-esteem this should be an alarm for you. It's also helpful to notice if students THINK they are doing great but in reality, are totally not. It can be a lot of information to go through, but you can also look at the results as a whole in one Google Sheet, which makes it easier to skim through the results.
For Parents, too!
I did one with my students' parents for the first time this year and I think I want to do more! I SO hope my son's teachers will do this because I am sure I will have a lot to say haha!
Of course you may get some STRONG opinions in these surveys, but they are also an opportunity to get parents to say nice things about you! I had so many wonderful comments that I probably would never hear if I didn't assign a survey such as this.
For this year, I gave the parents (students, too) a survey to evaluate how online/distance learning was going. This was early on in the process so I wanted to get a feel for what they'd have to say. Keep in mind that all my students were provided with Chromebooks.
If you click "Responses" you can see them set up like the images below. If you click the little green box in the upper right hand corner of the Form, you will see a Google Sheet version of the results.
I think I will make one for this upcoming school year with just basic questions about how the parents felt about ELA instruction in the past and also asking about THEIR reading habits.
Consider doing quick Google Form evaluations. They are super easy to make and view results. I find kids actually enjoy doing them because of the fact that they are easy to do.