We assess and provide feedback to our students all day, and many of you (depending on where you are geographically) are probably knee deep in end-of-the-year state testing, end-of-the-year school benchmark testing, and report card completion. Through our words, facial expressions, comments, and grades on papers, we are constantly letting our students know where they stand academically, socially, and behaviorally.
Yes, our administrator can provide valuable feedback, but the people who are with you all. day. long. Monday through Friday, probably have some good ideas, too. I give you, The Teacher Report Card.
I can’t take credit for this idea (like most great ideas, I learned them from my colleagues). In fact, providing our students with a teacher survey is a requirement in my district. Every January, when I hand out first semester report cards, I provide my students an opportunity to evaluate me. This is also a great activity to break up the “end of year” humdrum.
After discussing the purpose of report cards — to help my students and their families know their strengths and areas for improvement — I introduce my students to MY report card. The first thing I tell them: It’s anonymous, and NO, your grades will not be altered if I score poorly. I use Google Forms and create a survey to collect my “grades.” This tool allows me to quickly and easily view the data about my own strengths and areas for improvement (ok, let’s be real — “areas for improvement” is just a fancy way to say weaknesses). If you want to really track your progress over time, save the report cards over the course of your career. I have a thick file folder of mine, and there have been plenty of times over the years where I’ve pulled them out and reflected on my teacher journey.
The directions read:
Rate the following statements on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 meaning that I need improvement and 4 meaning excellent. Write a comment in the “other” section for each question to explain your rating.
I use the scale of 1 to 4 because it forces the kids to lean one way or another. If you have a 5-point scale, they can score you right in the middle, whereas the 4-point scale requires a push towards strength or push towards weakness, thus giving me more specific feedback.
I ask my students to rank me in the following areas, and provide me with a written explanation. I want to know details and examples about how I am doing as their teacher; otherwise, it’s just a number, and percentages can make you feel good, or bad, but words can move you to change and grow.
Helping you become a better reader.
Helping you become a better writer.
Listening to students’ problems or concerns.
Helping you get what you need.
Encouragement (helping you do your best and feel confident).
Helping you become a better mathematician.
Sense of humor.
Helping you think like a scientist.
Helping you understand history (about our country).
What has been your favorite part of fifth grade so far?
Is there anything else you want to tell me?
I could write multiple blogs about what I learned from my report card, my strengths and weaknesses, and what I changed as a result. But I want to lift up one statement that has resonated so deeply with me that it bleeds into all aspects of my teaching, and even my personal life. When responding to the Is there anything else you want to tell me question, one student wrote, You give freedom. Freedom is good.
Bam. Drop the mic. Walk off stage.
This kid has a future in moving people with his words…. He wrote his name after the comment, so I knew who it was, and this was NOT the first time that he’s been the teacher and I’ve been the student. His statement validated the risks I took this year in establishing personalized learning and taking on independent passion projects. It also forced me to look at other areas of my instruction where I could provide even more freedom for my students so that they can be the architects of their own learning.
You give freedom. Freedom is good.
The bottom line is this — give your kids a chance to evaluate you — and you have the chance to be an even better teacher down the road. Not that you weren’t great before, but if we constantly expect our students to show progress, why shouldn’t we expect the same of ourselves?