Student Survey Data Results – Grade 9 IDU

The grade 9 team (all science, social studies, math, and English teachers) recently completed an interdisciplinary unit (IDU) focused on the theme of inclusivity.

Last year was the first time that we offered the IDU, and one of the issues that we noticed was that teams tended to leave everything to the last minute, and teachers were unclear about the nature of their responsibilities towards the various teams.  To help ensure that all students felt supported throughout the process, we paired each team with a mentor teacher who was responsible for checking in on them throughout and for providing them with timely feedback – this is related to my “conferring” goal.  While the system was not perfect, it was a vast improvement over last year.  I checked in with the teams that I was assigned to every second day and tried to provide them with as much support and feedback as possible.

One of the challenges that we faced, however, were many teachers being out of school at various points during the 2.5-week unit, interrupting their ability to support the teams that they had been assigned.  Hopefully, this issue can be resolved through more careful scheduling this year.  Another way to improve the system would be to clarify at exactly what points mentor teachers need to check in with their teams, along with a central place for us to document that these check-ins are actually occurring and any interventions that may need to take place as a result.  With such a large group – approximately 20 teachers and 150 students – keeping track of everything and ensuring that everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities are major hurdles.  This year we made many changes and improvements to the unit and also had a high degree of teacher turnover; next year we plan to run with a similar model and will likely have less turnover, helping to ensure continuity.

At the end of the unit, we issued a student satisfaction survey, collecting 86 responses – also related to my “conferring” goal.  Here are the results to the quantitative questions:

These results are encouraging overall, showing a few areas for further improvement:  more focus on presentation-giving skills, helping students make explicit connections across disciplines, greater focus on the various steps of the design cycle that we use at our school, tightening the organization of the unit, ensuring that all students are challenged, and tweaks to make the unit more fun.

ISB’s Design Cycle

In terms of the qualitative responses, the following themes emerged:

  • students learned more about the theme of the unit – inclusivity as well as about how to analyze survey data, how to deliver an effective presentation, and how to design a viable solution for a real-world problem
  • students valued the opportunity to learn more about and practice how to collaborate with others effectively
  • things to improve upon include greater clarity in terms of the schedule and individual assignments amongst all teachers; more time for teams to work together – possibly through more condensed lessons devoted to the collaboration meta-skill; more feedback throughout the process; improving the structure and engagement of the science, social studies, math, and English lessons offered throughout the unit

Here are a few quotes that stood out related to the theme of the unit, the focus on collaboration and presentation-giving skills, and the unit’s structure:

  • “We have SO MUCH to work on as a community!! We need to be more inclusive and understanding, kind, and empathetic! Kindness is so important and we all need to be grateful for our privileges (because of this unit, I realized my top value is kindness).”
  • “We have SO MUCH to work on as a community!! We need to be more inclusive and understanding, kind, and empathetic! Kindness is so important and we all need to be grateful for our privileges (because of this unit, I realized my top value is kindness).”
  • “The theme of inclusion was very meaningful. Since ISB is such a diverse school, including minorities is huge priority.”
  • “The idea of improving upon our school is very good, I think that having students share their ideas is a good idea.”
  • “Teamwork – this was the biggest team project I’ve done so far.”
  • “The ability to collaborate with other people I would not have otherwise.”
  • “The best part is working with my group because I did not know them from before, and we got really close during the course of this project.”
  • “Learning about collaborating with others and how to speak in front of people was probably the best part because I can see how it would be used in anything anyone does for the rest of their lives.”
  • “The individual assessments and the large amount of free time given were the best part, because of how it gave us a lot of flexibility regarding how and when we do our project.”

The grade 9 team will take all of this data into account as we begin our planning for next year.  Overall, we addressed a number of key concerns from last year’s IDU (which dealt with the theme of Islamic Art) – the unit was focused on a more relevant topic, it was more inquiry-based, and students were provided with an authentic audience for their work.  As well, even though there is still room for improvement, we were able to provide more structure and support for students this year than we did last year.  I am looking forward to reflecting with the team and will try to blog again once that meeting happens.

 

Survey Data Reflection

It is always interesting to look at student survey data.  I plan to share a short summary with the students along with my plans for improvement.

The key areas for improvement are:

  • checking in with students regarding how they are feeling, including but not limited to how they are feeling about what and how they are learning
  • summarizing learning each day

These are not necessarily surprising results.  I could definitely make more time for regular student check-ins, whether through individual conferences or through surveys.  Explicitly planning for time to consolidate learning at the end of each lesson is another thing that I still need to work on, though I will not necessarily be focusing explicitly on that this year.

My plan remains to focus more on conferring with students on a more regular basis as well as seeking their input and feedback more frequently via surveys, as per my previous post.

2019/20 Professional Growth Pre-Survey Reflection

Confer  

I give students opportunities to share their thoughts about how learning activities should happen.
I seek feedback from my students about the effectiveness of my learning activities.

Why?   

I seem to recall that my survey results from last year were lower on this than I would have liked them to be.  I also know that I don’t always ensure that I am making sufficient time for this, even though I know its value and importance, particularly in IB classes where it can sometimes feel as though the time available is never enough.

Action Steps: Resources Needed Evidence of Completion (deliverable showing completion of action step) Will be completed by (date)
Interest surveys – beginning of school year Time, survey Survey results End of September 2019
Opportunities for choice – what, how, when they learn Time, revise assessments Revised assessments Ongoing
Individual conferences Time Notes Ongoing
End of unit surveys Time, survey Survey results May/June 2020

 

Goal Setting Post #3 – Narrowing In

Reflecting on the survey data even further, under Care, I have decided to focus specifically on “My teacher seems to know if something is bothering me.”  Recommended practices here include the following:  “The teacher shows sincere interest in students’ lives” and “The teacher pays attention to students as individuals.”

My plan here is to regularly incorporate some activities into my classes that may not be directly related to our learning objectives that day but which are more aimed at finding out what students are up to and how they are doing on a personal level.

Under Clarify, I have decided to focus specifically on “My teacher knows when the class understands, and when we do not.”  Recommended practices here include the following:  “The teacher checks regularly for understanding using techniques such as questioning, quizzes, exit slips, and monitoring student work.”

Many of these things I am already doing, but I intend to incorporate more quizzes, exit slips, polls, and other quick, informal methods of formative assessment into my classes each week.

More to follow…

 

Goal Setting Post #2 – Survey Data

I have completed the first round of survey data collection and had a chance to examine my results.

The students in this particular class rated me “about average” in the majority of areas, while identifying the following areas as “strengths”:

  • My teacher wants us to share our thoughts. (Confer)
  • Students speak up and share their ideas about class work. (Confer)
  • This class keeps my attention – I do not get bored. (Captivate)
  • My teacher takes the time to summarize what we learn each day. (Consolidate)
  • My teacher makes us explain our answers – why we think what we think. (Challenge)

No areas were identified as particular areas of weakness, but overall I could do better in any of the 7Cs if I wanted to.  This seems fair enough 🙂

All of the dimensions of Care, Clarify, and Class Management were rated as “about average.”  The Class Management one in particular really surprises me.  From my own perspective there is no issue with that; perhaps it is just differing cultural expectations, not sure.

In any case, looking through these has convinced me to maintain my initial area of focus – Care – and to switch my second area of focus from Confer to Clarify.  I still need to focus in more on what exactly I would like to do to try to improve in each of these two areas, which I will save for a future blog post.

 

 

 

Goal Setting Post #1

It was interesting reading through the 7Cs and accompanying questions for reflection, particularly at this point in the year.  There are so many things that I could be doing better, but I have identified two that I would like to focus on:

  1. As I am new to the school this year and have six classes along with a very large extracurricular activity, I am finding it a challenge to get to know all of my students on a personal level (Care).
  2. I am also very interested in providing students with a maximum amount of voice and choice in their learning (Confer). I would love to focus on building in more opportunities for that throughout the Grade 9 English (and every) course that I teach.

I look forward to reading my students’ responses to the survey to see whether they agree or disagree with me that these are areas that they think I need to work on.

 

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