The idea of your students who you have been grading all semester or all year giving their feedback on you and your teaching style can be intimidating to say the least. Will they retaliate for bad grades? What if they don’t like me as much as I think they do? What if they say something that is totally off the mark?
These are natural fears, and every teacher has them. If you have done student evaluations before, though, you have probably found that it is not as frightening a process as we teachers imagine it to be. Moreover, you have probably gotten constructive and helpful feedback from your students. So for those of you who are still on the fence about letting your students give YOU an evaluation, here are 5 reasons you might want to try it.
5 Reasons You Want Your Students to Evaluate YOU
You know what they are getting and what they aren’t
Though testing your students does give you a certain amount of feedback, you can get an even more holistic view of what your class is learning by asking open-ended questions on a student evaluation. By asking questions like what topics were a struggle for you? Or what areas do you still have trouble in, you will discover not only what they did or didn’t learn the first time through, you will also learn what your students are retaining. When your students are not concerned with the results of a final exam or a unit test, you may get a different read on what they actually know. With that said, you will also know what they are not getting. By asking your students what they remember or what stood out to them, you will know what didn’t. Those are likely the areas you will need to flesh out before teaching again either next semester or next year.
You know what you are doing right
Along with insight into how you need to improve your teaching, student evaluations will give you insight into the areas in which your teaching skills excel. You will know what lessons you have done are most memorable and have made the greatest impact on your students. Along with that, you will also learn the types of activities your students enjoy. Because your class make up will change from year to year, what your students prefer will also change with the classes. Still you will have a good general idea for where you are hitting the mark when it comes to your lessons. You will also learn if you are reaching all of the learning styles in your classroom. If you get positive feedback from only one group of students, you may realize you have been leaving another segment of your population out in classroom activities. You can use all of these insights when planning future classes to make them most effective and enjoyable for your students.
You can correct problems before they become problems
Because student evaluations tend to point out any issues you may have in your teaching style and classroom management, getting clued into them via a legitimate forum may keep students from complaining to your superiors. Through your student evaluations, you will become aware of issues like cultural bias and personality conflicts or lack of communication. All of these, if left unaddressed, can become overwhelming problems down the road. When your students clue you in to an issue in their evaluations, you can take measures to correct the situation before it becomes more than you can handle.
It communicates respect to your students
When your students see that you value their opinions and feedback, they will view it as a token of respect on your behalf. Everyone wants respect from the people they interact with every day, and by giving this respect to your students, it will motivate them to respond to you and each other with respect as well. This may eliminate discipline problems in the classroom or even put out fires before they happen. Your students will know that you value their opinions when you read their evaluations and make changes based on their feedback, and this is especially important if you have students who will return for an additional class.
Overall you become a better teacher
No person is perfect, and no teacher is perfect either. When you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses in your teaching style and classroom management, it will improve your overall performance as a teacher. You will have better relationships with your students, present better lessons, and have fewer problems. Though they are intimidating if you have never done them before, student evaluations offer nothing but benefits to the teacher who embraces this tool.
Even if your school does not require student evaluations, you can write and distribute your own at the end of each semester.
Just make sure your students know that you will not read their evaluations before you calculate their final grades, and hold to it. They will need that assurance if they are going to be honest with you.
What are some things you have learned from student evaluations? Share your insights in the comments below.