This past week was the last week of classes for this semester. Some of my classes are full year classes while others are semester courses. Either way, this seemed like a good time to make some changes for the new semester and to allow students to give some feedback about those changes.
I gave my students a quick exit ticket on our last day of class. I asked them to think back on the year so far and to tell me one thing that they liked about our class that they would like to keep the same for the new semester. Then I asked for one thing that they would like to change for the new semester.
Now, I must preface their responses by saying that I teach in a very non-traditional classroom. I use hybrid learning. You can read more about it on the hybrid page of my blog. Basically it involves students rotating through various stations throughout the lesson. Students have more freedom than they have ever had before and some of them fail miserably at first. It takes self discipline to do the right thing when the teacher is across the room in small group instruction and you are not being watched and redirected constantly. Eventually, even the most reluctant learners realize that being off task has a negative consequence on their performance. Many kids love the rotations because they are changing activities and moving around the classroom several times per period. Some kids never get past the fact that it is hard to self regulate.
The other thing that I do differently than most other teachers is objectives based grading. My students grades are based almost entirely on how well they can perform the skills we learn in class. You can read more about how I implemented this on the standards based grading tab. Basically this involves teaching, assessing, reteaching and reassessing students constantly. I give cumulative quizzes about once a week. Students choose which questions from their quiz to answer based on which skills they still need to show mastery. This can be hard to get used to for students who are used to collecting points in class for doing things that they should do. This would include points awarded for attempting homework, completing classwork, coming to class, and other behavioral things. Some students are even used to failing most of their assessments and then passing the class based on the bump they get from these behavioral points. These students really have to change so that they can pass my class. Only the learning counts in my classroom.
So, back to my one good thing. I fully expected the typical responses like "I hate stations, can't you just tell me what to memorize." Or "I hate that we don't get credit for completing our classwork. You should give points for this."
I did get a few of these. Out of 120 students, I had 8 write something like that. I also had about the 10 that wrote something like "I love everything, keep it all the same" or "I hate everything, change everything." Neither of these are very helpful for me.
I had about 20 people respond to the prompt the way that I hoped they would. They told me something about the class that they liked and suggested ways to change things that they don't like. I'm planning on trying some of their suggestions. Maybe I'll write about that another time.
The vast majority of my kids totally shocked me with their responses. The remaining 80ish kids wrote about something that they themselves did in class that they liked and didn't like. They took responsibility for their learning. They set goals for how they could improve their success in the new semester. I had responses like "I'm going to make sure that I complete all o the classwork, because it leads to my being prepared for quizzes." Or "I'm going to ask more questions when I'm confused. I won't allow myself to fall behind because I'm afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is ok."
Responsibility for the win!!