I use these FREE Student and Family Evaluations to get some insight into what my clients are thinking. The opinions that really matter to me are those of my clients, my clients being my students and their families. So, every year about this time I pull on my big girl panties and ask for some honest, no holes barred feedback in the form of a teacher evaluation. Is is always easy? No, but it is always worth it.
Giving the Evaluations
The student evaluation I give in class. I make sure that students know that I want their complete honesty, and for this reason we keep them completely anonymous. Before giving out the evaluation we talk about honestly, and how you can be honest without being mean. I like to share comments that I have received in the past and share how they helped me to shape our classroom. This really gives students ownership. In the six years that I have given these evaluations, my students have always taken them very seriously. I believe this is because they know that I truly want to know what they think.
The parent evaluation I send home. I have sent it home as a paper copy and as an attachment to an email. Both have worked out well, but I have had a higher return on the paper copy. I think this might have to do with the anonymity allowing families to be truly honest. I place a box at the back of the room and ask students to place it in the box by a certain date. I don't open the box until that date, so that I really have no idea whose is whose. Either way that you choose to share with parents I would recommend attaching a note stating that you would like honest opinions and again give examples of how they have helped you to grow as a professional.
In the end, do I always want to hear what is said. No, I don't want to think that I am not the perfect teacher, BUT I NEED to hear it, because that is how you grow.
One year I was feeling particularly brave and gave the evaluation three times:
First around parent conferences in October.
Again at the end of the first semester.
Then wrapped up the year by giving them again the last week of school.
I received so much wonderful feedback in both glow and grow areas that I used to really improve my teaching and classroom environment.
Interpreting the Evaluations
Reading over the evaluations can be an uplifting or totally crushing experience based on how you set yourself up. I recommend really embodying a growth mindset, and tell yourself that feedback is how you grow.
Don't even think about just "looking over" these evaluations. Save them for a time when you have an ample of time to not feel rushed and really reflect on what you are reading. I usually liked to go to my favorite restaurant and belly up to a giant sweet tea and bowl of queso. I would take my time going through the evaluations using sticky notes to make lists of important points for both areas of strength and possible growth.
I am not going to lie. There were tears almost every time. Most of the time they were happy tears because of something positive that was written that I didn't even realize I had done. Other times, I would be upset with myself for not knowing something. Both of these are important to realize, and the queso makes it infinitely easier to get through it.
After You Digest Your Evaluations
In order to kind of wrap up the evaluation process I would gather up my lists of glow and grow areas and draft an email to parents and a little speech for my class. I wanted to recognize their honesty and let them know that I really read each and every word and was taking it all in. For these, I would usually pick 3-5 positives and the same number of areas for growth to outline and then again thank families and students alike for their help in my professional development. I ALWAYS received more feedback from families after sending this email, and since that was my goal in the beginning it was very much appreciated!