My goal from the Fall survey was based on Clarify, responding to the need to make sure I did not “think students understand when they did not”. My plan was to collect more and more consistent formative data to make sure that I knew where students were and could help them progress.
I changed my role from EAL teaching to classroom Humanities teaching at around the end of the semester in December, and we learned online from January till April. The survey I gave in the Fall was to my EAL class group, and the Spring survey was given to one of my Humanities classes, and specifically the class that I have found much more challenging to deliver instruction to because of their behavior since about the turn of quarter 4 from 3. The results are disparate and show different things, still valuable, but reflective of these dynamics. Bottom line, it’s been a crazy year.
The Clarify section was my third highest C this round, and the area of “knowing when students understand and do not” had risen to the medium level, indicating that I was able to meet that area, which was my goal from Fall to now. Two descriptors were high, related to comments/feedback given on assignments that help students improve. This is something I do prioritize when giving feedback (feedback, not just grades) to students so that was a great affirmation of something I value. Evidence of my work on giving feedback and collecting consistent evidence is shown both in digital places like DX but we also keep all physical student evidence in folders in the classroom and students are aware of the structures to review feedback, ask questions, and keep it all in this place. The isolated example shows the length and depth of comments on a few assessments including formative and summative speaking tasks.
New feedback and reflections:
As mentioned earlier, the class I delivered the survey too was a class that I have had a lot of struggles teaching in the second half of this semester and have tried a lot of strategies to manage. The nature of the issue specifically is that our time on task for learning is significantly impacted every day by students arriving late, without materials, and then preferring to spend every available minute talking socially to each other instead of listening to instruction or working. I worked different responsive strategies and eventually spoke to the whole class about the issue very matter of factly, but the issues persist even now to the end of the year, which because we’re near the end might just get harder because of that general situation. I had leaned into being responsive and deliberately gave this group the Tripod Survey just so I could further diagnose the issue so following is the data from that and my reflections.
The lowest area was for “Captivate” with the descriptor that came out specifically low being “I like the ways we learn in this class.”
When I took informal feedback from the class about how their learning could be better before this survey, they already shared that they would like to learn in different ways, specifically getting to choose their own partners, move around and work with different people. So where this rating comes from already has some information attached. The contradicting problem with that, is that the issues this group has staying focused are because of their predilection towards socializing when with their friends, so at this point I’m not inclined to give them that leeway in general, except for short focused activities. What I’ve seen is that if they aren’t firmly separated, the class doesn’t run well because of how much they disrupt teaching and waste time talking. Still, I know and have reflected that they need to be more engaged in their learning as a real ‘nature of the problem’ where I am culpable, and this is a responsive way to raise that Captivate score in general.
Another low area was Challenge under the descriptor “Teacher accepts nothing less than our full effort”.
This strand has been low about every time I’ve done this survey with 8th graders and I’ve asked students about this in the past, and they are always freely ready to admit that they will never give their full effort ( because of their 8th grade maturity level?). However, when I asked 8-6 what their thinking was they all expressed surprise and seemed to want to affirm that they do feel like they give their full effort in our class. Maybe the data isn’t quite accurate here or maybe they are trying to express that so they can work towards getting the freedom they want.
Interestingly the area that I have been feeling the biggest struggle with has been managing their behavior, but this was rated extremely high by the students. And again, I wonder if they were trying to compensate and imply that they actually are well behaved despite what I see and correct them on every class? Hard to say.
Looking more closely at the individual question feedback, it looks like one student (est. 6% equals one student’s feedback?) may have gone through putting the lowest value for every single descriptor, or else there was on average one different student who happened to rate Very Low for each different strand. I wonder if that was the case, and if so who, and why? I do plan to talk with the group about their feedback in a constructive way tomorrow.
Edit: I did do this. I told them that they will firmly be in assigned seats for the time being because specifically yesterday I experimented with letting them sit wherever in the room and it again, did not produce the best work and focus. They asked for a compromise in that they want to have their assigned seats be rotated once a week so I will do that. And I will keep trying to create specific opportunities where they get to work with chosen partners on learning tasks.
Increase student engagement through challenging, authentic learning experiences. (Captivate)
The survey is always interesting and brings up new questions and theories that I can only ever try to be responsive to and work with to improve my teaching. The results have flipped from last semester and last class and I imagine if I gave them to the other section I teach I’d see completely different results as well. But I will make plans to work with this particular class based on the data I’m seeing, and that is to pivot on the ways they learn so their feedback is validated, and I push myself to improve as a teacher.