Saturday, April 19, 2014

Students Grade the Teachers

The other day, my wife did something she does all the time, she had a great idea.  She suggested that the students grade the teachers.  We, the teachers, build a rubric and an evaluation form and then the students grade the teachers EVERY day.
I love the idea!  I'm thinking my rubric would look on a first run like this-Daily Teaching Rubric.  My evaluation form would look like this-Daily Teaching Eval Form.
Immediately, my "I want to be a perfect teacher all the time" mode kicks in.  I see immediately that I'm usually not very good with the hook and then my closing activities are bad.  So, I'm starting with a B at best in my mind, but I have to work on my hooks and closures and get myself up to an A, right?
Yes, but, what I really want is to be able to get the students more involved in their education and also to get them to learn better how I use grades to communicate with them.  If I can use this rubric to get the students to actively judge me for every class I teach, I hope I can get them to think more about how they learn and how active they are in this process.
Sure, they judge me all the time, but it's more passive like, "This class sucks today" or "Kelly's in a bad mood today" and they leave it at that.  What if they could do something about it?  What if they were graded on their grade/evaluation of me?
Would they start to understand better how I grade them all the time?  Would they understand the rubrics and the content better?  Would they learn better?
One of my best students asked me how much I grade and I told him about 10 hours per week.  He was astonished.  I told him I need to keep my finger on the pulse of the class and the different students.  I need to be constantly looking at what the students are doing and how they're doing it so I can see if and how they're learning the concepts I'd like them to learn or to see if they're making progress on our current project.  By regularly grading my students' work, I can answer the following questions, do I need to more explicitly address a concept or a step in the project?  Can we move more quickly?  Do I need to change our approach to this topic?  How could I do this better next time?
How would the students react to grading their teacher?  I don't know, but I want to learn.  I would hope they would examine what they're being asked to do every class period and better understand why they're doing it or ask "why" if they don't know.  I would hope that this would allow them to gain a better view of how they're learning and would allow them the opportunity to be more active in how they learn.
At the same time, I'd like to give them a template to judge the people they're always judging in a very unspecific and passive manner.  By grading me, they have to ask themselves if and how their learning in my class.  They also can specifically address strengths and weaknesses in the delivery of their class.
As I always tell the students at the start of the school year and around Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for them, because without them, I wouldn't have a job.  It's their school and their class and too many of them are too passive in their learning and too passive in their judgements of their teachers.  I want to change that.
Certainly, we'd have to spend some time learning better how to use and apply rubrics and what I'm trying to achieve with each class.  If I did this well, it would be time well spent as again the students would better understand the method behind all this madness.
I think it would also be somewhat fun to have the students turn the tables on me and be able to call me out on my strengths and weaknesses.  As of now, the students get to evaluate me at the end of the quarters and semesters, but not on a more regular basis and without a standard like the rubric.
Another way this would help my classes is as a closing activity.  Like I said, my closures are bad.  I almost always run up to the bell and we stop at some point in the middle of the activity and the kids are on their way to lunch or their next class.  This grading/evaluating would work as a great daily summative activity for the period.
Finally, I am also looking to always be a better teacher myself.  If I can use this rubric and the students' grades of me, to become better at my profession, this could truly be a win-win for all involved.  However, the main focus is to get the students to learn better how they're being asked to learn and for them to better understand how I grade their work.
What do you think?  Let me know.  Learning is my business!