Get out of your comfort zone – open yourself to students’ feedback

We are all professionals passionate about teaching and we want to make a difference. Our students lie at the heart of our teaching. We are for them, but how do we know we are doing the right things when teaching?

Do we listen to our students? How do we plan and decide on materials selection? We do consider our students’ needs, but do we verify if what we do is relevant? Apart from observing the students in class and marking their work, do we use any other methods to assess our teaching and its effectiveness? How do we measure students’ satisfaction?

We need to assess our performance as this leads to preparing better and more effective lessons, which leads to higher motivation levels (for both students and teachers) which leads to better results, achievement and satisfaction.

No one is infallible, even if everything goes well, it is worth to ask our students for their opinions. Yes, we use those official and complex feedback forms, but they are often generic and not asking the questions that are always relevant to our students. Also, the language may be too complex to be understood eg. by ESOL learners. Lesson observations and Ofsted inspections only see the fraction of what we do, so who to ask if not our own students? They know us and they see us in action regularly. So where do we start ensuring the quality of teaching and learning? In our own classroom of course! When if not now? We can make instant adjustments.

Let’s discover our own strengths and areas of improvement! I agree, we have to be brave to do that, as on one likes receiving negative feedback, if any. However, it will pay off. In the long run. Even if we receive some negative comments, we need to look at them in a constructive way, following them up with a conversation and asking for clarification. On the other hand, I’m sure, we will also receive positive comments which will boost our confidence and motivate us to further improvements, introducing new ideas and overall, to better performance. These will help us maintain our job satisfaction.

Asking for feedback is definitely getting out of the comfort zone, but only there, the miracles will happen. Staying in the comfort zone is detrimental to our development and at the end of the day to our students’ experiences. Asking for feedback shows we listen and we want to communicate. We will also be trusted and seen as willing to review, refine and improve our practice. Following one student’s feedback and changing one aspect of our lesson will not change the world, but the whole world will change for that one student who gave us that feedback. Whatever we do, let’s start changing our approach by one thing at a time, that’s all. You will see its effectiveness in the long term. Ask your students for their opinions! Be prepared for a change! For better!

Below, you will find a general perception questionnaire I will be using with the beginner level students after 6 weeks of teaching. I will be following up the results with a discussion, asking for details or reasons for choosing particular answers and clarifying any misunderstandings.