Last night I learned how to make a Google Docs survey form. I loved the simplicity of it and the immediacy for my project of collecting more student feedback on how the class is going. I imbedded the form on a special math blog I keep for these types of forms, then had my students access the website and complete the survey. It took them about 15 minutes total to do this (we have student laptops available for each student at my school). The questions I used were the following:
1. What is going well for you in math?
2. What is difficult for you in math class?
3. Rate your participation in class (options: more, same or less than other students)
4. When you have a question in class, what do you do? Does it work?
5. When you have a question about homework, what do you do? Does it work?
6. When you have a question during a test/quiz, what do you do? Does it work?
7. If you could change one thing about class, what would it be?
The feedback was very positive: my students are hearing my earnest desire to maintain their homework life doable and meaningful ("not busy work" said one of them) and that I should be a resource of last resort after talking with peers and thinking about the math (I don't want to be the omnipresent, know-it-all teacher).
There was one particular comment that I wasn't expecting, but enjoyed reading and consider:
Everything is going well for me in math this year.
I understand the concepts how you explain them and the homework seems like a good amount that helps me understand the classwork.
The homework usually isn't busywork. :)
We have math class as the last period on Friday and I like how you understand that we might get restless.
Some teachers wouldn't realize that.
The reason I like this comment is that it tells me that this student hears my compassion for their school life complications and try to deal with them in positive ways. Even naming these frustrations seems to make some students feel more understood.
My ultimate goal is to be a compassionate, realistic math teacher with high academic standards. Sometimes it seems that these three adjectives are contradictory, especially when applied to the MATH TEACHER as a stereotype. At least with this group of students, I am winning the battle to receive the "benefit of doubt" that I wrote about earlier.