Evaluating the Teacher

Curiously the supervisors of teachers have a whole different agenda than educators do. While occasionally we see some affirmation of what we’re doing, rarely is the praise exuberant. How many reports rate our work as good on a checklist and how few excellent. And then there’s the needs improvement category. Good teachers always try to improve their lessons, but here it stings rather than guides. Fortunately, there is an alternative readily at hand: ask the students.

Now I grant that before they are graded, students have self-serving interest in maintaining their teacher’s good will, but they are often specific in what they choose to praise. That lesson worked for me. The style you used. Your willingness to approach a topic in a new way when someone said, “I’m not getting it.” I like your comments on my writing; it’s like you’re communication with me, not just pointing out grammatical mistakes.

Students know if the experience was good for them. And that is the point after all. I learned never to expect that my performance would be good for the administrator; sometimes I was surprised.

So what questions do you ask to encourage specific replies?

What did you get from the course?

What were some of the most unusual insights you came away with?

Did anything particularly surprise you?

What did I do that was helpful to you?

How long did it take for you to get used to the style?

What did you change in your own approach to our studies?

Was the class joyous? Important?

How did you feel the class as a whole worked? The class as a group?

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