Recently, The Atlantic published an article called “Why Kids Should Grade Teachers.” It’s an interesting read if you have time.
After considering the article’s major premise – that students, who spend 100s of hours in a classroom with me, actually know my teaching better than any administrator and can offer better suggestions for improvement – I decided to seek feedback from students more often.
So, in addition to some of the survey items mentioned in the Atlantic article, we came up with some questions that target specific facets of education that we know need to change in the 21st century. There are items about developing passion, creativity, problem solving, and teamwork, among others.
My first identified “risk” area: passion.
Survey item: We have an opportunity to pursue our passions in this class.
Strongly agree: 33.3
“Yes because the teacher lets us make our own paths”
“No. Only because my passion is in a different subject. But I do like history.”
“Yes, if you’re into politics and history that would be a simple example, but this class challenges us to have a passion not for what is taught, rather it makes us passionate to pursue own goals in other classes.”
“If you’re passionate about issues in the world and politics then yes, but if not, then not so much.”
So, clearly, this 12th grade government class hits the mark for some, who happen to be passionate about politics. It doesn’t quite hit the mark for everyone, though. And I’ll admit, I had never really tried to incorporate students’ passions into the course. How could I create more opportunities for students to follow their passions even though I still need to teach a government curriculum? It’s was a tough question, and after a few days of stewing over it, I still had no answer.
Until the obvious dawned on me: ask the students.
And so I will.