> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: Asking for feedback

Friday, September 21, 2007

Asking for feedback

I bit the bullet this week and asked my students to let me know how they were finding my teaching. I explained that I didn’t mean personal remarks just whether they felt I was helping them to learn, and what I might do better. I asked them to respond in particular to my 'comment only' marking on their last assignment. They duly took out a sheet of loose leaf -after we had discovered that ‘foolscap’ is not a term used in this part of the US.

I was worried they might be either too hard on me, or less helpfully, too nice. There were a few responses of the worryingly ambiguous type - 'I can't think of anything you could do to be a better teacher'. But they were also quite direct too –which was refreshing. The following is fairly typical of the responses I got.

‘Thank you for saying that you liked my introduction. I didn't think this one was any good. Why did you?'

'I agree that I need to work on my paragraphing. To be honest I don’t understand how paragraphs work. I never did them at my last school either.’

‘I rushed this homework because I wanted to go out to a movie with friends. That won’t happen again.’

‘I liked what you did with not giving us our grades right away. I would like if you wrote more comments.’

‘What is juxtaposition?’ (Er… my favourite word?)

‘You didn’t explain that we needed to have more than one example’ (I hadn’t either!)

and my personal favourite:

‘I like your accent. I wish I had one.’

I’ve found out what ‘Homecoming’ is. It’s the first home game of our school football team –and it takes place next week. We have been fundraising, voting for princesses and decorating our classroom doors all week. More about this soon.


Shaun said...

I love the word 'juxtaposition'! It just rolls off the tongue, and it's nice and big and pretentious-sounding.

Those comments range between hilarious and refreshingly honest. I can't imagine it ever happening in Stranraer, though, which is rather sad.

It's nice to finally know what homecoming is, it's another thing I've often heard mentioned but always forgot to look up.

You may be nearly interested to know that I missed registration today because I was so late. In future, I'll make myself come early! Honestly!

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

Wow! You were late! Can't imagine that happening. Were people surprised? (I'll stop shall I?)

Nice hearing from you Shaun! Yes it's different from Stranraer -where everyone has an accent...

sue said...

Hello Mrs O'Neill. My name is Sue and we have nae view on Stair st but live in England. I am a primary teacher and discovered your blog last year by accident but read it regularly. I find your writing really interesting and always enjoyed it while you were in D&G. As a primary teacher I have discovered the importance of being specific with instructions and that the unsaid was just as important as the said but that too can be problematic as some take you very literally. I hope you are enjoying your new life and I will be reading your blog regularly.

Jemma said...

Wow! I really wish we Stranraer pupils could be as honest as that with our comments, and that the Stranraer teachers had the savvy to accpet them. It'd make school a lot more interesting methinks. Shows how different things are! :)

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

Sue -thank you very much for commenting. It's a small world. I miss Drummore especially being near the sea! Re- directions, Primary school teachers seem to have a better grasp on this than secondary school teachers. Interested to hear what you think about the whole area of checking pupils have understood an instruction. It looks like a lot of students don't like to say they didn't understand -but perhaps that's partly a teacher's problem because sometimes we get a bit tetchy when they ask for clarity!

Jemma - I wonder if it's a Scottish thing that we are a bit nervous about saying what we think in case we offend? The Americans aren't!! Refreshing, sometimes 'bracing':)

Anonymous said...

Hello again re feedback and instructions. Techniques we use a great deal in primary teaching are choosing children to explain to the class what it is you want them to do. This checks understanding. (Interesting at times) Feedback, we ask children to think of a way to improve someone's work after they have read it (Can read aloud or work in pairs)You can read work to a whole class and ask them to find the success criteria which you have already told them. I am not sure what you do with older kids although works well with our year sixes. Take care. Sue