California Educator

October 2015

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F E E D B A C K I S H E L P F U L in all pro- fessions. We can learn how to better serve our students through feedback. It can help us improve how we communicate with them. The most effective way to be evaluated by students is to ask them. They are really honest, but you have to ask the right ques- tions to get the feedback you need. I ask my students what they learned in class each day. If they explain some of the things they learned, I know I taught them effectively. If no one can tell me anything, I understand I need to find a way to make my teaching more memorable with the next lesson. I have not been graded or rated by stu- dents online or on an evaluation form. I have received verbal accolades and informal notes from students and parents letting me know I helped them learn. I have also had students who were children of past students, and that is the best evaluation of all, because they want their children to be in my class due to the positive effect I had on their lives when they were my students. Some fear being evaluated because they think the emphasis will not be on how they teach, but instead on their popularity based on personality. And once something is on the Internet everyone may believe it — even if it is a lie. It's true that a teacher evaluation could be misused by older students who do not like a teacher. But if they do not like that teacher, my question would be: Why? What could be done to change the minds of those stu- dents? Are they just being brats who do not want to learn? Or do they have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed? We should not view feedback as a threat. It's just another way for us to become better at educating our students. ANN MURRAY, Twin Rivers United Educators, teaches kindergarten at Village Elemen- tary School in North Highlands, Sacramento County. I D O N ' T T H I N K students should evaluate teachers. Most, espe- cially those who are younger, don't understand the extent of what a teach- er's job really is. They lack the maturity to understand the qualities of a good teacher and don't have the tools — or even the correct ac- ademic language — to explain why they think a teacher is good or bad. They usually decide based on their emotions and whether they think their teacher is being nice or friendly when it comes to determining whether some- one is doing a good job in the classroom. Students retaliate with online evaluations if they receive a poor grade or if they don't like something their teacher said to them. And it's not just students as individuals; they get their friends to do the same thing, even though they may not have had that particular teacher. It's not just websites like; students are saying things about teachers on social media. I have seen teachers suffer when social media posts say that they are bad teachers. It is very hurtful. Someone might be strict and still be an effective teacher, but negative feedback can make them feel like they are a failure and not successful. It erodes a teacher's confidence. When students give negative evaluations, new students enter the classroom with an expectation of having a bad teacher. They start off with a bad attitude. This has a nega- tive impact on the classroom climate. When students are in college, it's appro- priate to evaluate their professors. They are adults and more mature. They are old enough to understand what it takes to be an effective teacher. But if someone is a child or teenager, they don't have that level of ma- turity. And if someone doesn't understand the scope of the job, they shouldn't be evaluating you on it. STEPHANIE COSEY, United Teachers of Pasadena, teaches adult living skills at Wilson Middle School. Thanks to the Internet, many students are currently evaluating their teachers, using websites such as ratemyteachers. com. We asked two CTA members whether they think it's a good idea. Tell us what you think: #ratetheteacher Should students evaluate teachers? P O I N T / C O U N T E R P O I N T YES NO 20 Perspectives

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