Friday Thoughts: Teacher Report Card
In the most recent episode of the Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast titled “Learning by Doing,” Daniel Bauer interviews Don Wettrick, the Innovation Coordinator at Noblesville High School (which is just outside of Indianapolis, IN). For the past few years, Don has been teaching a nontraditional class modeled after Google’s Genius Hour and has written a book about his experiences.
The interview is full of great ideas such as best practices for an innovative classroom, student project ideas, obstacles to expect from the traditional education paradigm, and great books and resources all educators should check out. My biggest takeaway, though, is that at least twice a year, Don has his students grade him. One of the questions he includes on his semester final is “What am I doing wrong?” and his students are brutally honest. He says, “By the end of the semester, they know that they’re not working for me— I’m working for them. And when I’m not serving my customer base correctly, I want to know. And I actually like criticism because I know it’s aimed to make me better.”
Because next week is semester tests, this idea really hit home for me and perhaps it does for you as well. What if all of us asked our students to assess how we’re doing? Educational author and speaker (and former school principal) Todd Whitaker offers these teacher report card suggestions in his book The Ten-Minute Inservice:
Does my teacher care about me as a person?
Does my teacher hold me accountable for my actions?
Does my teacher do his/her best to make class interesting?
Does my teacher help me when I am struggling?
Is this class interesting? If not, what could my teacher do to make this class more interesting?
Does my teacher allow me to actively participate in lessons?
Does my teacher treat me with respect?
Do I feel successful in this class? If not, what could my teacher do to help me become more successful?
Does my teacher enjoy teaching?
Is my teacher a good role model for me?
One thing I really like about this class is ___________________.
One thing I do not like about this class is __________________.
If I could change one thing about this class, it would be _________________.
If you’re brave enough, I’d like to encourage you to get some feedback from students, to invite criticism, and to find ways to make next semester. Feel free to use some or all of the questions above or create your own. But let me offer this warning: students will be brutally honest (but really that’s the only kind of feedback worth listening to!).