Feedback is critical to teachers’ success

When given constructively, criticism can improve curriculum


Sibleigh Julander

Humanities teacher Rachel Evans works with sophomore Kiley Amundson on her essay during a one-on-one conference on March 13. Evans uses the feedback she receives from students to help her grow as a teacher.

Isaiah-James Draculan, Staff Reporter

When students are unhappy with a teacher’s teaching methods, there are very few opportunities for them to provide feedback. Teachers are not required to seek feedback from students, and few of them do. So, when students have a complaint about the learning in the classroom, is there anything they can do about it?

The teachers who solicit feedback from their students do it a variety of ways. Math teacher Martin Goldman-Kirst said he has students write down their suggestions.

“Sometimes the way I get my feedback is by words or asking them to write down,” Goldman-Kirst said. “What went well, what didn’t, what should change and I would ask what I, as a teacher, should continue or change.”

Goldman-Kirst then uploads all the answers to a Google spreadsheet to see what each student is thinking about in class. If the responses are split between 50 percent positive for the lesson and 50 percent negative, Goldman-Kirst won’t change anything in his lesson. If the feedback is mostly negativity or students say they are confused, he will try to change the lesson or his teaching to help his students the best he can.

For 10th grade Humanities teacher Rachel Evans, feedback from students gives her time for reflection.

“I have never ignored any feedback given by a student,” Evans said. “Instead, when I received feedback I don’t like, it’s the kind of feedback I would think about the most because I think that’s where I need to find the truth on what’s being said … and would help me grow as a teacher.”

Once the teacher is able to find the true meaning in a student’s feedback, they are able to change the way a lesson is taught so that student will more easily understand the first time around.

Sibleigh Julander
AP Chemistry and Freshman Physical Science teacher Steve Pratt helps freshman Nate Wright search for a useful Lego piece to complete a robot on March 13.

Sometimes the comments a student provides aren’t positive or negative … just weird. Science teacher Steve Pratt said his craziest feedback came from a student during his first year of teaching at Cleveland.

“You know Mr. Pratt, I thought you were going to be another white teacher that we would just run over this school year,” the note read. “Until one day you’ve become a little meaner and we actually learn something, that’s cool!”

Aside from that one student, Pratt said most of the feedback he receives is at the end of projects, but he does take a survey at the end of the school year asking how he did and what he could improve upon.

“I take in the feedback and consider what the students’ perspective is and not take it personally,” Pratt said. “Because every students’ feedback helps me grow as a teacher.”