gotta work on titles….
Review the “Critical Questions for Educators” in Chapter 2. Why are these important to understand those we serve in education? What other questions would you ask?
- The questions are:
- Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
- What is best for this student?
- What is this student’s passion?
- What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
- How did this work for our students?
While this chapter was validating for me as an educator, I think there is one huge question missing: Ask the students – what can I, and then we, do to help you learn; to improve the project/lesson?
And that is not even phrased well. In getting feedback from the students, there must always be a component of “how can we improve this?” Ask the kids what worked and what didn’t. Ask them why – when you have shown that you are invested in their learning; they will be very honest and give you constructive criticism.
In my school, we crafted an interdisciplinary project for that horrible, awkward time between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. It’s intense and the organization of the groups is a nightmare (I teach at an independent boarding school, with many international students, so we work hard to make sure the kids are in groups that have domestic and international kids, day students and boarders… since the there isn’t 100% parity in the sections – some kids are in an honors level, some are in a different course, we need to make sure that there is at least one person who is in both courses doing the project, and that each student has at least one partner in each class. Despite this, it’s my favorite unit of the year.) We’ve done the project for several years now and as part of the peer reviews, we ask the kids about what could/should we change.
The important part is – we go back and discuss their feedback with them. If we feel that something shouldn’t be changed, we discuss the reasons; we implement many of their ideas. The learning has strengthened each year, and the kids are (mostly) willing participants.
- I start my year, when asking my students all that student inventory stuff, to include three things that set the stage for me:
- I want to more about ___ .
- I wish the teacher knew ___ about me.
- In this course, I am most nervous about ___.
I try very hard to make sure I get feedback routinely from my students; I find it is worth the time and makes for a much better experience for everyone.