After watching Rory Gallagher present at the Cambridge Student Voice Conference, I decided that I was open to allowing students to critically assess my teaching. As a proponent of student voice, I felt it would hypocritical if I didn't allow them to comment openly on my teaching. Ultimately, they're the ones I teach for, so it makes sense that I take into consideration how they feel about what I do.
I started by creating an online survey (using Survey Monkey), incorperating the 35 questions Rory provides on his blog. I organised the questions into seven sections, each one reflecting the seven 'C's' as outlined in Rory's dissertation; care, control, clarify, challenge, captivate, confer and consolidate. Within each section there were a variety of questions, all of which required students to rank their response on a Likert scale from 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree'. I won't go too much into the nitty-gritty behind these choices, as I conducted this research in a very informal capacity. If you'd like to read all about the methodology and reasoning behind the survey questions, please read Rory's dissertation (linked above in his blog).
Once the survey was complete, I e-mailed it to all of the students within my Year 8 and Year 9 classes (I teach one group within each year group). These classes are both low-to-middle ability, and provide me with challenging behaviour. However, in terms of progress, they are two of my top performing groups; my residuals for both groups are just below zero (which means only one or two students are off target by one sub-level). From the outset, I was expecting the questions focusing on behaviour management to be quite poor - I already see behaviour management of 'more challenging' students to be an area I need to improve on.
The survey return rate was very high for both groups, as I allowed students time to complete the survey using the PCs at that back of my classroom. 19 out of 21 Year 8s and 15 out of 23 Year 9s competed the survey. All missed responses were a result of student absence on the day the survey was given.
While analysing the results, much like Rory did in his dissertation, I focused mainly on the 'strongly agree' and 'agree' categories or the 'strongly disagree' and 'disagree' categories, depending on the direction of the question asked. I will now briefly go through an analysis of the results:
NOTE: I have decided to delete much of my analysis, as it was too long winded and unnecessary. Instead, I will just share some of the findings that the survey made me consider, in terms of my own practice:
1) I need to ensure that I manage challenging behaviour in a more consistent way.
2) I need to make sure that my plenaries, where I summarise student learning at the end of the lesson, are much clearer.
3) I need to allow students to have a say in how we learn in lessons
Overall, I have found the process of asking students to provide me with feedback on my teaching very eye-opening. They were able to back up some of the things I knew about myself already, while providing me with interesting insight into other areas for development. I am yet to survey my two Year 7 groups, and will do so over the next coming weeks.
I encourage other teachers to engage in a similar process, as it can really help to determine PM targets for the future. I have no doubts that my teaching practice will improve as a result of these surveys.