Fostering effective feedback

There is something missing in the High School right now. Less obvious than community, but hopefully of equal significance: The lack of an effective feedback process for teachers is undermining our education.  

Nobody is perfect; we all need feedback. Just as students are constantly receiving commentary on their performance in the classroom, it is necessary for students to reciprocate this to teachers. While this school has some of the best teachers in the world, each classroom is different, thus the qualities of a teacher can always be fine tuned to maximize the effectiveness of the class.

Before we go forward, we do acknowledge that there have been efforts to give such a forum in the past. Some teachers issue surveys, others hold private conferences; some act upon this feedback and others do not. This system is subject to the teacher, and therefore cannot be enforced or ensured that the responses receive the follow up it deserves. This can make for a process where feedback gets lost and is not acted upon.

Much like how teachers give our parents face-to-face, honest comments, we would like to see a similar program implemented without exception throughout the High School. We believe that written evaluations typically are not taken seriously, nor do they allow students to sincerely express their concerns to the teacher.

Instead, we suggest every quarter teachers dedicate a class period for two-minute conferences with each student. The time can be used to develop productive dialogue between the student and teacher.

The meetings will also humanize the anonymous answers on the occasional course feedback survey teachers send out to students. Specific advice would be more effective than ranking certain aspects of a course from one to five — it will be tangible advice that teachers can implement straight away.

This session will not be for criticism, it will be a time where students will praise the teacher for what they have done well so far, as well as what has not been as beneficial for the student.

With an official and mandatory system, the whining and criticism that students partake in about teachers in the halls can be transferred to a constructive discussion in the classrooms — where action can be taken.

Finally, we urge students to take teacher feedback seriously. In order for the process to have any credibility whatsoever, students must be thoughtful and conscientious. Each classroom is made up a diverse group of learners, so in order for all the needs of students to be properly represented, honest answers are crucial.

We believe that there must be more transparency between students and teachers. In doing this, it would allow our already impressive faculty to excel even further and help bring the school to a new level of academic excellence.

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