As we start our third and final trimester of the school year, I always like to check in with students to refocus our energy to finish the year strong! It also gives me great feedback for future planning. I've been really happy with the questions I've asked, so I wanted to share them here:
-What has your favorite part of (class name) been this year?
-What has your least favorite part of (class name) been this year?
-What has been the hardest thing about (class name) this year?
-What do you wish was different about (class name)?
-What is one SPECIFIC thing you want to get better at in 3rd trimester?
-What is your plan to get better at the thing you mentioned?
-What can (teacher name) do to help you have a better experience in (class name)?
The majority of the responses I get are very encouraging and thoughtful. I find out how students are feeling, like the girl who told me that she feels like she learns music slower than everyone else. That is not what I see in the classroom, but it is important for me to know that she is feeling that way. I find out where they are struggling, like the boy who told me he was so confused about what a certain musical symbol meant. That was an easy thing to address in class, but it may not have come up for a couple of weeks if I didn't know it was bugging him! I also find out what they want/need from me, like the student who wanted more frequent feedback on her position in class. I may not be able to do that every time, but I can file away the knowledge that this kid is craving more feedback! I also find out what they like the most, and can try to implement more of that in my classes!
This avenue also helps me to address trends I see in the class. Many students say that their least favorite part of the class is practicing. Based on this, I am planning on having a whole-class discussion about practicing - why we do it, why it is important, and what it might look like if we didn't practice. Getting a pulse on where the class is as a whole helps me tailor instruction to them as well.
Unlike certain other assignments, I always look forward to grading these reflections. They give me so much useful information to help me feel like I can really reach each student! I also have found that students are usually positive in these reflections and share what they like and appreciate about the class, which cheers me up through the long days of conferences and grades!
One note: Usually, I am all about collaboration, but I have found that I get much more individual, thoughtful responses when students do this on their own.
Do you have students reflect and/or set goals in your class? How do you incorporate their feedback into your teaching? How do you find out about their individual goals, thoughts, & needs?