The End-Of-Year Reflection

In the last week, after grades are in, I send a Google Form to all of my classes.

I thank them for a great semester/year, and I feel some feelings in front of them.

I mention my zillion-page Google Doc, and explain why I keep it.

I tell them that I value their ideas and advice, and that growing and being better matters a lot to me.

I explain that positive and negative feedback are both welcome. I ask them to keep it constructive, even if they think I smell bad and look funny.

Then I go away while they fill it out.

It is usually anonymous, name optional.

I don't grade it, or enforce it getting done.

I want their thoughts about specific projects and units. I tell them the things I'm feeling meh about and ask them about their experiences in the class. I want to know what they thought about the routines and procedures and if the desks are arranged effectively. All of it.

Students do a lot of reflecting, as it is, on each project and process throughout the year. But the course reflection is a bit different. Instead of looking inward, I'm inviting them to think about what they would change not about their own performance, but about the things they might not typically feel that they can change: the environment, the grown-ups, the content.

I want them to know.
That they have a voice in shaping their education.
That their experiences are valid, and valuable.
That like them, I am also still learning. And very, very human.

It's a vulnerable space. And it has to be.
I have to welcome the full spectrum of responses.

Even though I ask, "What do you think?" all the time, there needs to be a space for the thoughts about the class or about me that might never be spoken aloud, face-to-face.

I'm floored by the results. Some students write the bare minimum, yes, but others really open up. This year's seniors told me that they appreciated my positive energy. That they would have liked to see more nonfiction among the course texts. They let me know that I'm "too soft" and they got away with a lot of things they weren't supposed to do. That the projects were really interesting, but one of them could have been better timed.

I get some love notes. I get some disappointed missives. I get a lot of fearless honesty.

At the risk of going all meta with it, I'd love to know: What questions do you ask on your course reflections?

No comments:

Post a Comment