ON THE FIRST CLASS of every school term, we meet students in their regular classes building and take them to their English classroom. Now imagine the view which is fantastic. The school campus is huge and it has many buildings and they are all surrounded by green. (I’ll ask my new students next year to create a videotour for you guys! I promise!) Anyway, hard not lose track of time when you are walking with your friends and have so much to talk about, so from time to time… yeah, we have problem with a group arriving couple of minutes later than usual. Not always though. The key ingredient is to make them curious for the next class. And by comparing the first with the second semester I can see how that was spoiled with some of the sequence of activities we worked on in the second semester. Even though the feedback was quite positive about the second semester comparing with the things they did not enjoy doing due to the grading system. Big mistake on my part… but this is something to cover in another post. The idea is to get over IT ( IT referring to all the things that need to stay in the past, and then, with lessons learned move forward to changes in the following year, but this time taking students participation in the process a lot more seriously than I had ever done before. So, I hope.
These are students feedback at the end of the second semester. The demands of the school system is high and second semester was so short that no much class reflection took place “during” the semester. At the end though, I asked my 8 groups of 9th graders (group sizes vary from 2 to 9) to help me out evaluate the second semester where we tried out lots of new stuff (use of technology in class, digital tools, City guide project in and outside the class, research skills, moodle, facebook groups, etc), and totally in anonymous way, they were asked to write down 3 things they liked during the second semester and 3 things they hated ( hated was a bit dramatic, but I really wanted them to think hard about it). Most of them then had a hard time to come up with the 3 of what they hated, and they asked me if it was necessary to be three. And in a kindly manner, I asked them to think harder and be very honest so I could do it ( and IT is referring to provide learning experiences) better next year for the new 9th graders. They had already answered our Institution online evaluation of teachers which gives me a grade every year (something also to talk about in a near future, and even though grade was good and I had positive feedback from it, I am still not satisfied with that. But why I am not satisfied with that?!?!) So, I wasn’t looking forward to putting them in awkward situation. I was looking forward to understand what actually went wrong. The why though is gone with them for vacation, right? Because without bringing them into the discussion, it will be just guessing work in which I try hard to avoid on a daily basis. However, I will try to consider some variables in order to help me draw some conclusions on what to do next year as far I am concerned about the grading system, the way I presented to students and approached new technology in the classroom, etc..
I could see though that once most of the ones that weren’t sure about what they didn’t really liked realized it was not about them or me, but about doing better for others, it was much easier for them to evaluate the whole thing in a way that was critical considering what worked for them. I made sure that they understood the value of what they were doing and how important it was for me to know what I could improve, so anything they spotted as not liking at all would be helpful.
And so they did and I am very thankful for all the hard & good moments we had during the year and especially because they were kind enough to share what they thought of it with me through simple, but what for me was a very constructive criticism.