Suggestions for the Suggestion Box
Courtesy of Llindsay Bremner via Flickr
Over the course of the summer, there have been changes to the GAFEs (Google Applications for Education). This is a huge benefit of GAFEs and their innovation to move forward with their applications. Many of these application features a feedback process that anyone can leave a message to improve the user experience. A direct link to the developers to have our voices heard. How nice!
We should imagine and generate classrooms that run similarly. Could you handle reading from a "Suggestion Box" placed in your classroom? How easily would you be offended by students' comments and suggestions? Would you try to match students' responses with their handwriting (a skill all teachers inherit)? How open-minded would you be to their responses? As consumers, we want this flexibility which is why apps are constantly being upgraded despite the dismay of 'that guy' (or girl!) commenting that "it was fine the way it was before." This type of thinking is dangerous and prevents us from reaching greater peaks. The same can be said about our classrooms.
For some of us, this truth syrup may not be easy to swallow. I created "End of Year Surveys" on Google Forms for my students to complete. In previous years I used pencil and paper with no names. I would read through a few of them and then run into summer vacation with little thought to them. This past year, I created a Google Form which plastered their responses right in front of me. I couldn't stop reading them. I could easily see where students had the most fun, the most trouble, most memorable moments, and what they thought about upon entering my classroom daily. I also gave them the opportunity to provide advice for next year's students.
Some comments were tough to read. And that's okay. Some responses you want to frame and put it on your desk as a constant reminder of why you enter the profession. Either way, their responses carried weight throughout the planning of the upcoming year. Students said they liked learning through XYZ so I am going to incorporate more of XYZ in my lessons. Many didn't care for ABC, so I am going to try a different approach to ABC with hopes of improving their 'user experience' in the classroom.
Though a curriculum may dictate what we teach, it doesn't dictate how we teach it. Teachers should provide students with the Burger King approach of 'Have It Your Way' when it comes to education. We want students to be excited to enter our classrooms and explore ideas and concepts unknown or undefined to them. I won't be waiting until the end of the year for the next survey. I want to hear from my students right away and give them a voice in the way our 'app' (aka our classroom) runs.