At the end of the semester or school year, many teachers at Berkeley High School request feedback from their students. Teachers usually ask for feedback through a Google form. They may ask students what they enjoyed in the class, what they think could be improved, and their opinion on what they have learned. Having teachers ask for their students’ feedback can improve their class and empower students through allowing them to voice their thoughts.
Surveys are an excellent way to receive feedback, as oftentimes students don’t feel able to go up to teachers directly and say what they think. Surveys allow students to comfortably communicate feedback to their teachers.
Sam Rozen, a BHS chemistry teacher, gives out feedback surveys to his students twice a year. He decided to start giving out surveys to students when he saw one of his colleagues do this. “It’s really good because I have it be anonymous, so the students are free to answer exactly how they want to answer. Students will be brutally honest with you. Sometimes the feedback is kind of hard to hear, and other times you acknowledge it spot on,” said Rozen.
From these surveys, Rozen was able to improve his classes. Some suggestions he implemented were changing the student seating chart more often, breaking his lectures into smaller chunks, and having more labs in his class.
Lyndsey Schlax, a BHS World History and Economics teacher, has taught at BHS for the past year. Schlax does a survey with several detailed questions once in the middle of each semester, and also does a weekly survey checking in with students if they need any support.
“(For) example at the end of the first semester, I asked questions like how hard did you work in this class? Were you focused in class? What helped you focus? What distracted you? What did you do if you got stuck and didn’t know what to do? What is a goal that you have?” said Schlax. Asking these types of questions helps Schlax understand her students better, so she can provide more support to them and adapt her teaching to their needs.
Schlax also asks her students about how she can improve as a teacher. She mostly focuses on improvements to content. Schlax wants to make sure the material she covers in class is relevant to everyone and that she covers it in a respectful way. The best way to do this is to actively ask the students about the material. If students are interested in what they are learning they will likey be more engaged in class.
Some may argue that asking students to provide feedback to teachers would not be effective or fair. There are concerns that students would not provide honest feedback for fear of the teacher’s reaction. There are also worries about students personal biases or grudges would appear in their feedback. Luckily both of these problems have relatively easy solutions. If feedback is made anonymous students will be able to be honest. Also if there is a student with a personal grudge or bias that will be obvious when the other students’ feedback does not have similar complaints.
Every teacher should have a way for students to give feedback. Student feedback helps teachers improve their class by allowing them to understand what works well and what doesn’t. All students deserve the best learning environment possible, and student feedback helps make that happen.