Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ask for Feedback

You know you want to know what they're thinking...

Or do you? Maybe you're worried they'll tell you that something's wrong, or that something needs to change. How vulnerable do you want to be?

I always worry when asking parents for feedback, as I wonder...
     -How much of what I've sent home have they taken the time to read?
     -What if they're traditionalists and have LOTS of issues with how I'm teaching?
This quarter, I tucked the parent feedback survey link into our two-week update. I figure, if parents are reading the two-week updates, they should be informed enough to give valuable feedback.

I'm way more open when it comes to asking students for feedback. Each year, after the first quarter, I ask, and I receive. I LOVE IT. I just wanted to share a glimpse of the different types of feedback my co-teacher and I have received just last week...

The prompt: You have graded yourself this quarter. Please let me know how you think our first quarter has gone.

They are copied and pasted, so please ignore any errors in grammar or spelling...

  • I have enjoyed class so far. I don't have any concerns.
  • I think our first quarter has gone pretty well, most people seem to pay attention and participate in class and I think almost everyone in the class gets along well. I've noticed we have been able to get a lot of work done and not fall behind because of classmates talking or fooling around too much, and I hope the second quarter will be even better.
  • I am really happy with how this first quarter went. I made a lot of new friends and I am starting to get better with comprehension. I hope the next 3 quarters are going to go smoothly just like this one did. Thanks for your help Mrs. Kirr!
  • The first quarter went well, we wrote in our reader's notebooks a lot which could be good on some days but not every day. I feel good about my grade because I don't care what type of A I get but I did put work and effort towards my work.
  • I like how we got to chose are grade but at the begaing of the year it was confusing to now what counts for a grade and what dose not count I think we can spessify that a little more but other wise the quarter went Great!
  • Everyone in this class works well together and they respect each other. I think the first quarter went well. It was fun and everyone was really nice to each other.
  • That we are talkative. WE work hard still but we talk a lot.
  • I like how this quarter was very laid back and nothing was super serious but yet we all stayed focused and got our work done. 
  • I think the first quarter has gone pretty well. I like the fact that you have a very flexible grading system and class. The only problem I have is it may take a bit of time to get used to this very different approach at teaching.
  • We have a lot of freedom, so like we can basically chose who we want to be by. Some of the kids in our class our distracting so sometimes it is hard to work. (I'm excited to bring this point up in class this next week - coming from peers is much stronger than coming from me.)
  • I think that I have improved a lot this year. My reading has grown stronger and I hope it keeps improving (and that I don't run out of books). I really like ela a lot.
  • I think it was good but I don't like DGP. I am very bad at it and it's not very fun at all. [I act like I like DGP (daily grammar practice), but I don't, either. We only do it twice a week, however.]
  • I think that the quarter this year for me has gone pretty well, I have learned a lot about righting a reading I think that I have built a pretty good reading habits
  • I liked Q 1 overall I think it might be fun if next quarter we did group projects like a small book club then did a book talk on it or made a poster. Or we could do a books I love to read where we pick a book we love and then make a poster on it. Or go to the library as a class more often even a scavenger hunt in the school. I think that ELA can be really cool. And I hope that we can make it that cool! <3 (I love getting student-generated ideas!!)
  • Everyone at least participated once or twice this quarter. There was cooperation, preparation, and participation, and that was helpful/useful to people who want to start to participate in class, to get to know each other. Overall Quarter 1 has gone great. I've noticed the change to getting settled in ELA class and hope this continues throughout the year. 
  • the grading system is kind of bad because you don't know how you're doing throughout the quarter. I think you should put all our grades for stuff on powerschool so we can know how we're doing instead of knowing last minute (This is a great reminder for me to show students - again - how to find their feedback on the online grade system.)
  • So far, this ELA class has been a breeze. I've noticed that Mrs. Kirr's positive attitude spreads throughout the class. But, the only thing I want to change is the grading system. Personally, I want to see my grades online throughout the quarter, so I can learn to improve my grade later on. (I talked with this student, as he put his name in the form - when I mentioned that I could do this, but then the grade would be what the average of the grades are, he said he'd prefer to stick with the feedback he was receiving instead.)
  • I enjoy having mrs. Rehberger in class. She is very helpful
  • I think first quarter went really well. I like what we do in class, expecially the reading part. I didn't really like to write that much but I still sometimes enjoy it.
  • I think I need to participate more, I can work on this by raising my hands and answering question or joining in on fishbowls. (Ah! Student reflection!)
  • It has been really good for me, the only thing though is that I only work well with certain people.
  • I am stressed about school in general. Including all of the homework, schoolwork, etc. I know that there is nothing you can do to change this though...
  • I love how we had an option ad we could work at our own pace
  • I think that this quarter went great! I like how much time we get to read and write, and how much freedom we get when we read and write.
  • I think that I did well in Quarter 1 because I got an A and I tried my hardest. Usually in my classes I am worried about my grade but in this class I wasn't so worried and I was more worried about trying my hardest.
  • I love this class. Its awesome and I wake up knowing that this is going to be the best class out of my day!! πŸ˜†
  • I think that the first quarter went very well, however I'm still not sure how I feel about the grading processes. I also really like getting the feedback though, because I value others opinions on how to become the best version of myself
  • This class had me more focused on actually learning instead of grades. I find that one of the great this about ELA this year. One thing I don't find great is how it takes forever to get things done as some of the other kids are ALWAYS talking. Maybe be a little more firm? (A boost I need! This is from the last class - always the toughest one of the day.)
And this one is my absolute favorite from this year so far...
I think that at first everyone was kind of... not interested. As soon as you started teaching us that reading and writing are both fun, everyone began to find a new part of themselves that loves to read and or write. And I was glad to participate in that beautiful transformation.
Ask for the feedback. Students will remind you of why you're in the classroom. They will give you suggestions. They will ask you questions. They will push you to do better.

Intrigued: Here are more responses from last year at this same time... 

My "gradeless" resources so far: "FaR" tabs of our classroom Weebly
                                    Feedback Instead of Grades LiveBinder for parents to inspect
                                    My own reflections on this journey

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