As one of my goals this year is effectively building classroom culture, I challenged my students to complete this assignment with some guided activities and, after these two weeks, I asked them to share what they found. I also asked them to flip these seating charts over and respond to these questions:
1. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, how comfortable do you feel raising your hand in class to ask a question?
2. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, how comfortable do you feel raising your hand in class to answer a question you aren't sure if you're answering correctly?
3. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, how comfortable do you feel engaging in cooperative learning exercises with you peers?
4. To become more comfortable with these these skills, I could...
5. To become more comfortable with these skills, my classmates could...
6. To become more comfortable with these skills, my teacher could...
My first realization is that I need to conduct such a survey more often. Not only do this assignment and survey align with two of my professional goals this year on soliciting student feedback and improving classroom culture, I also obtained insightful feedback. Here were some of my most interesting findings:
- In my two English 9 classes and my English 10 class, the area of greatest discomfort was the first, asking questions. Due to my lack of psychic powers, this response was concerning; how am I to know if my students are confused if they don't tell me? I shared this concern with them; now I need to help them gain this comfort.
- In my Honors class (some call this pre-A.P.), the area of greatest discomfort was responding to a question they aren't entirely confident about. An interesting disparity between these two types of learners, but not entirely surprising; they are generally perfectionists who pride themselves on their academic prowess so I can see how appearing "wrong" may be a fear.
- In response to the fifth question, some students said their classmates could be more kind and approachable, get to know each other, invite students to join their group work, could ask good questions and could smile.
- To #6, some students said I could talk about me, provide feedback on their in-class responses, call on a variety of students, ask follow up questions, and help them get to know each other better.