It’s a teacher’s job to establish an environment in which students are engaged and able to learn. However, how can a teacher cognize that they’re doing this?
Many teachers have worked in the same school for several years, so being assessed by a specific class they teach will help them tailor their teaching to the needs of that class. These days, students have disparate learning styles compared to students of prior years.
In earnestness, why not let the grading be two sided?
In my school, Eden Prairie’s Central Middle School, we already do something similar to this. Students are asked to take an anonymous survey on two of their teachers, based on many different aspects of their teaching and the student’s experience in their classroom. However, this only happens once a year, and only with two out of the six or seven teachers we have classes with. So, providing feedback to teachers more frequently, perhaps once a month, and to all of our teachers, could be much more propitious.
Not only would this be an opportunity for students to share their perspectives, but it would also help teachers determine what they can improve on, regarding their teaching style, material, etc. Rather than students giving teachers letter grades, the questions on the survey should be asked in a positive manner. For example, “What is one thing that would help you learn better in this teacher’s classroom?” would be a constructive question to ask because it’s focusing on what can be improved, rather than what’s negative about the teacher.
One dilemma that pops up when considering this idea is whether students will be mature enough to handle this responsibility. Some evaluations may not be fair and/or sensible to foster learning experiences. Another one is how biased kids will be. Students’ personal grades could become a factor in how they respond on the survey. Though both of these circumstances could occur, there’s no way to genuinely know unless our schools try.
Teachers are already evaluated by teaching specialists, but I think that letting students have a voice in the assessment would be a grade way to accompany that (pun intended).
Aspiring journalist Harini Senthilkumar is an eighth-grader at Central Middle School in Eden Prairie. She enjoys singing and writing.