Students - the (Often) Silent Majority

What resources do you use while planning lessons?  Do you consult your Twitter feed?  Ask members of your digital or face-to-face PLN what works and what doesn't work?  What about your students?  How often do you ask them for input on instruction?  If your answer is "not often" or "not at all" I recommend that you start asking them now.  Student voice and choice is the missing piece of the academic puzzle.  Our students are starving to give us feedback on our lessons and how those lessons can better suit their needs.  All we have to do is give them a time and place to share those thoughts.

I recently finished my freshmen research project.  For the first time, I decided to include a technology element to the project.  I had the students create a Glogster instead of a poster or PowerPoint presentation to share their findings.  Throughout the project I was constantly reflecting and thinking about how I will be able to improve the experience for both my students and myself next year.  After we finished the project, I had my students fill out a reflection over their experience.  They shared with me what they learned, both about research skills and technology, and how they could have improved the project. While all of these questions were important, I think the most important question I asked my students to reflect upon was If you could change one thing I did as a teacher during this project, what would it be?  Why?  I think this last question was the most powerful item on the survey because it gave my students the opportunity to be the ones in charge and to evaluate me.  My students seemed to be excited to have the opportunity to tell me what they thought about the project without the fear of negative repercussions.

After my students completed this activity I asked them how often their teachers ask for their feedback and opinions.  I was floored when they said that they never or very rarely have been asked for input or feedback about lessons, projects, or assignments.  While I am not naive enough to assume that I am the only teacher in my building to ask for student feedback, I do think that many more teachers need to start.  This begs the question:  Why do more teachers not get feedback from the most important group of stakeholders in the educational community?  Do they not think students are reliable or valuable sources of information? Do they take for granted the value of empowering their students?  Do they just forget about this most important group of stakeholders when reflecting on their lessons?  Whatever the reason, I think it is important for ALL of our colleagues to open their eyes and begin embracing students and the valuable feedback they have to offer.  After all, it is their education. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on student feedback, how you ask for feedback, and what how you use the feedback you receive from students.

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