Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reclaiming the Lost Moments of Your Teaching Career

I frequently ask my students for feedback, both formally and informally.  Arguably the most important feedback I get is from mid-year and end of year surveys that ask a lot of probing questions.  Normally I look at the results just after the school year is over, but last year was different.  I had a traumatic year, both personally and professionally, that shook me to my core.  I questioned my ability and desire to continue subjecting myself to the internal and external pressure that had overtaken me.

Needless to say, I wanted to distance myself from the events of the past year as much as possible.  Last year's end of year surveys were filed away quickly, and although I did look at them, I completely blocked it from my mind until I found them this week.

I've always preached that you should find the good in everything, whether it be a useless professional development workshop or that one class that drives you crazy.  I've spent a good deal of the time since last June thinking about everything except last year, failing to confront the issues and emotions that basically crushed my soul.  I neglected to follow my own advice, and in doing so, I threw out the good with the bad.

Today I was finally ready to go back and look at what my students had to say at the end of the year, both good and bad.  As I consider my options for the upcoming school year, I needed to confront these issues before I could move forward as a teacher.  Below you will find some very interesting responses that I wanted to share.

If you found out that your friend/family member was going to be in Mr. D's class next year, what would you tell him/her?
"That Mr. DeRosa is an excellent teacher."
"I would say that Mr. D's class is the best class that have PCA honestly is more better than other classes!" [from an ESL student]
"Don't do it to yourself (JK) He is a really good teacher you just have to pay attention."
"That you can actually learn something in his math class, and you probably won't forget it."
"He's a good teacher and speaks Spanish."
"Listen because he can teach you alot and when you need help he is there."
"To be prepared for all the hard work cause its going to be a long ride."
"Well what I would tell them is that I was a pain in the [butt] and every teacher should have one."
"He is always on point and he is very smart.  He is willing to help you with anything."
What did Mr. D do well this year?  What should he keep the same when planning his classes for next year?
"Improve his attitude, kept his class going even when the boys who sit in the back were making it hard on him."
"Everything, if I was a teacher I give him A+... you don't have to change anything"
"He has good teaching skills. He is also a good friend, he jokes around & talks to us.  Explain things in all the ways possible.  He should keep all this the same."
"You did everything good this year but when your mad dont take it out on us. :)"
"He kept me on track telling me to do my work."
"Give us opportunities to make up all our work to get grades up." [ironically, that was from a student who didn't take advantage of most of those opportunities!]
"Controlled his temper :) Cuz he never exploded at me."
What did Mr. D NOT do well this year?  What should he change when planning his classes for next year?
"He wasn't tough enough."
"Did not kick out the boys from the back"
"He lets people get to him and he takes it out on everyone he is a really good teacher but needs to control that."
"...make the class a little bit more exciting and with more discipline."
"...he should learn to try not to take his anger out on us when he's having a bad day."
What is the one thing you will remember most about his class?
"He's a warm hearted person and love his students."
"Getting A's in math (a subject I don't really care for)"
"Mr. DeRosa's teaching and his Domain & Range Song, 'To the left' "
"All his fun activities M&M project, carnival game, dice game."
"Mr. D being the funniest teacher even though he'd be grumpy half the time!"
"When Mr. D brought his guitar and sang."
"Comedy, understanding math"
Anything else you would like to tell me?
"I love you Mr. DeRosa!"
"I wish you the best Mr.  Hope your new place brings you good things.  We'll all gonna miss you.  Keep being the smart good teacher that you've been to us!!"
"Mister, you're the best I wish you would be here next year.  I had fun in this class, especially our arguments & making me laugh.  YOU'RE AWESOME!"
"Thank you for teaching Mr. DeRosa.  I'm going to miss you even if you don't think so.  I know your going to miss me and my attitude too. Thank you!" 
What would your students say to these questions?  Have there been periods of your career that you've all but blocked from your memory?  What would you find if you went back and revisited those times now?