Goal developed before first survey:
Improve in the Tripod 7C area of “Confer” by better encouraging and valuing my students’ ideas and views in the science classroom and during mentoring time.
Although my survey results were good for this initially, the three “confer” items did all increase on the spring survey so that 100% of students gave favorable responses.
The three main ways that I tried to improve on these areas was to do more small group discussion-based activities where I circulate and participate, I continually reminded students of the value of “academic courage”, and I also incorporated more peer feedback on assessments. I also think that our regular small discussion groups in mentoring time helped in this area as well. I do think, however, that students likely did simply start to feel more comfortable with their classroom group by the end of the year, and therefore started to share their ideas more.
Goals developed after the first survey:
Goal 2: (Challenge):
Implement a better feedback system for self-directed lessons so that students feel both validated and motivated. I implement one-on-one brief check-ins with all students during longer multi-class projects.
After receiving the results of my first tripod survey, I gave my students a follow-up survey to solicit comment-based data that could help me improve. Two themes also emerged to help explain the Challenge results.
- The vast majority of students felt that this question item was confusing. (“In this class, my teacher accepts nothing less than our full effort”)
- A few students suggested that self-directed lessons and projects might be resulting in some students becoming less motivated and productive.
While it was clear that the main reason for my poor results was due to theme #1, theme #2 really made me think. I work very hard to provide feedback to students as they work through self-directed lessons and projects. Not all work is self-directed, but I do use a “flipped classroom” approach quite often and like to have students work at their own pace whenever possible. However, most of my feedback now is provided through One Note or Socrative online quizzes. I realized this year that for some students, this digital check-in may lack the personal touch needed to spark motivation.
I did indeed try to meet one-on-one with students to discuss their progress as often as possible. I soon learned, however, that this takes much more time than I had available in class. I then switched to frequently offering students choice after receiving their digital feedback. If they felt they would benefit (either academically or motivationally), then they could self-select to have a one-on-one. This method worked fine, although I did still need to force check ins with some students that I knew were struggling.
Prior to the second spring survey, I purposefully took time to explain the wording of the survey item to try to avoid confusion. The results are below. While there is noticeable improvement, this is still an area that I would like to improve on.
Goal 3 (Classroom Management):
Implement and follow through on a one-warning system for behavior issues in the classroom. These behaviors will focus on students talking when I am talking, and students who are off-task.
It was very surprising to me, and also a ‘wake up call’, that classroom management was one of my lowest areas on the first survey. Having come from a previous school where I needed to spend much more energy on classroom management, I realized that perhaps I have become too lenient at ISB because I just think that the students’ behavior is so good generally. While I still feel as though my classes are always productive, it was very interesting for me to learn on the first survey that 15-20% of my students felt that student behavior was not under control and that classmates did not behave the way that I wanted them to.
In the follow-up survey, two themes emerged to help explain the classroom management negative results:
- Most students do not think that classroom management is a problem
- Some students think that I need to intervene more to help students who are (a) disruptive or (b) off-task but I don’t realize.
The themes above helped me to develop goal 2. While I was not entirely successful in sticking to a firm warning system, I was definitely more conscious of classroom management throughout the year. I was particularly sensitive to thinking about the minority of students that were feeling uncomfortable, and I definitely shut down off-task behavior and talking more than I have in the past. I’m pleased that my survey results for all of the classroom management items went up. There now appears to be only one student in the class who responded with any unfavorable scores. This still does bothers me, but I am happy to see the significant improvement. I have learned that classroom management and how students are feeling about it is much more difficult to gauge with ISB students.
Overall Results Fall:
Overall Results Spring: