- By admin
- October 8, 2019
By Grace Shelton
A Response to Teacher Input in EdWeek
Last spring, EdWeek released a series of 3 blog posts that included teacher responses to the question: “Should teachers encourage student evaluations of their classes and their teaching? If not, why not? If so, what are the best ways to do it?” Each teacher response included valuable insight into the opinions of educators. For some, it seems logical to ask students, the primary consumer of educational goods, how their teachers are doing. For others, it seems risky to allow young children, prone to emotional swings and biased thinking, to remark on their job performance. But, as a former teacher myself, I believe the importance of student voice in evaluation cannot be overstated. Students tend to find things that adults in the room would never see (ie. You talk too fast for me to understand, I wish we spent more time on this subject, etc.), and even though some of their feedback might be hard to digest, it is imperative that students feel heard and valued in the classroom. So, the benefits far outweigh the risks, and if student surveys and questionnaires are done well, many teacher concerns can be avoided.
Student Surveys: Are They Reliable?
In fact, according to the piece, “when it comes to teacher effectiveness, it turns out student perceptions are more reliable measures than supervisor observation. After all, students’ perceptions of their learning environment are their reality, whether we have the same perceptions or not.” This raises a good point that whether or not students’ perceptions match their teachers’ or peers’ doesn’t really matter. Their own realities are what shape their experiences in the classroom, and it’s important that they are recognized and addressed. Teachers in the article mentioned that regardless of academic success, students also have an opportunity to share their hopes and engagement level in these evaluations. In order to increase motivation in the classroom, therefore, these teachers encouraged student surveys and input so that individual needs could be met. In fact, one teacher went so far as to say,
“the saddest and most ironic practice in schools is how hard we try to measure how students are doing and how rarely we ever ask them.”
The article concluded with the thought that it is never a waste of time to ask students about their experiences in the classroom. Sometimes this feedback can be difficult to swallow, but that can be necessary in seeking to address the needs of all students. Students are stakeholders in their education too, and it’s about time their voices are heard.
Use the Most Reliable Student Survey Available – Resonant Education’s Survey of Teacher Practice (STeP)