The most underutilized group of people in most schools? Students.
We often make decisions about them without spending time in conversation with them. Many is the time we design an initiative that we think will be attractive to our students without actually having spoken with them about what they like and what motivates them.
As you gather meaningful data to better understand the impact of your actions this year, don’t forget the students! Take time to learn from your students while you still have them around.
What can you learn from them? School-wide trends. Perceptions of individual teachers. What teaching strategies are most motivating. You can learn what works.
How do you do it? Small-group discussions. Surveys (yes, I know you already give a lot of surveys, but are you really getting all the data you need?). Informal conversations. (You can learn a lot while at bus duty or lunch supervision)
What do you ask students? The questions you ask your students should be related to the context of your school. For example, if you’ve been working on Positive Behavioral Interventions (PBIS), you will want to ask questions to gain student perspective on what works most effectively. You may want to spend time digging deeper into perception survey data you’ve already collected.
The bottom line is this: you can learn a lot from your students if you’ll design a listening strategy. Use what you already know (performance and perception data; your own observations) to create a list of questions for your students. Schedule time to talk with them or to administer surveys; analyze the data and use it to inform your continued work and growth.
While it’s advisable for you to create your own custom questions based on the context of your school, here are some possible questions to spur your thinking. Of course, the language of these questions can be adapted depending upon the grade level. The core content of each question is adaptable for any grade level.
Twenty End -of -the Year Questions for Students
- What did you create or produce this year that represents your best work?
- What are examples of work that you did in any of your classes that you were excited about?
- What kind of assignments bring out your best work? How often do you get to do that kind of work?
- What percentage of your class time is spent doing? What percentage is spent listening?
- What teacher or teachers do you feel really connected with you this year? What was it they did that made you feel that way?
- What did you learn about the most this year?
- What do you wish that you had a chance to learn this year?
- How hard do you try in school? (your best? as much as you need to? not much?)
- Who expects you to do your best in school?
- What do we do at school that makes you try harder?
- How much do you care about the grades that you get?
- Was this your best year of school so far? If not, which year was? Why do you think that?
- Right now, do you enjoy learning more than you did at the same time last year? Why or why not?
- What is your passion? When does your passion intersect with your work at school?
- Now that you’re finishing this grade, what advice do you have for the students who will be in this grade next year?
- What grade would you give your teacher(s) for the year? Why? What grade would you give our school for the year? Why?
- What do you see other students doing that you would like to learn to do?
- What will you learn this summer?
- What are you most proud of that you did during this school year?
- Are you excited about next school year?
Again, this is not intended to be a complete list of any sort, but just a few ideas of what you might ask students at the end of the year to learn more about their learning experience at your school. If you have more questions to add, please do so in the comments section below!
Regardless of whether or not you use any of these questions at all, the biggest question is this: will you take advantage of the tremendous resource of your students’ perceptions on learning as you evaluate your work this year?