Self – Assessment & Feedback

Learning happens when kids are invested in what they are doing. This works best if they buy into the process and know why they are doing what they are doing. Over the years, I have developed questionnaires to help the students figure out what they need to best learn and why we are doing what we are doing.
This tool promotes a better classroom climate and learning. Research says that students who set personal goals for learning learn more effectively (Marzano). I have combined this goal setting with getting feedback to help improve my teaching and student learningI have used this technique in my high school classes because it requires students who are cognizant of what they are learning. At the beginning of the year, I give my students a list of skills that are necessary to learn Chumash (segmenting a passuk up to comparing Meforshim’s essential premise) and ask them to rate themselves 1-5 for each skill. I then ask them to pick 5 skills in which they would like to improve, for any instructional techniques that help them, what can I do to help them achieve their goals and their favorite subjects. This lets them know from the start that I am tailoring the class to them, and I expect the year to be a learning process for both of us.

On subsequent tests, I include a feedback section. I take out the key skills that we have worked on in that unit and ask them to rate themselves 1-5. I then ask questions about what instructional practices have helped them achieve their goals and other open ended questions about the learning going on in class. It is worth 5 points on the test so the students answer it. Asking them to rate themselves is important because it focuses their suggestions on academics rather than personality.

Shockingly, most students are very sincere and concrete in their feedback. They have asked to increase homework frequency, use the board differently and have even suggested a particular graphic organizer. I make sure to modify my instruction and tell them I am doing so. If I can find educational research that backs up their request, I tell them about it. This helps the students be conscious of their thinking and learning styles. It becomes highly motivating for them to come up with clear, concrete suggestions instead of general complaints. It creates a classroom focused on growth rather than on getting good grades. I love when a student comes up at the end of class and says she is proud of me that I ____ while I am teaching. It also means I can change course if I see something isn’t working instead of waiting until the end of the year to hear that a kid feels he didn’t learn all year.

I save the feedback sheets. On the final, I ask them the same questions as I did on the first day. Last year, I circled their original rating from the first day so they could see their growth. This was particularly meaningful for kids who got C’s & D’s since they saw their own growth and they cared less that their grade was low. I then use their feedback from the whole year to plan for my next year. If I see that students don’t feel like they have improved in a particular area, I use my summer to think of strategies of how to address that skill set.