PD, Personal

The Teacher Transparency Challenge

It’s quite rare that I write a blog post that has little to do with instruction, technology, or some sort of resource that can be brought into a classroom.  Yet, I’ve found myself thinking about our daily interactions, as educators, with our students.  It’s something that has been on my mind and my heart for some time now.  Lately, I’ve become worried about how easy it can be to lose sight of why we are educators.  I’ve become worried that education, to some, has simply become a job.  A paycheck.  It’s one of my greatest fears.  Education is a job like none other.  It is a career that impacts all other careers.  It impacts the future – every single future.

If education is a career that has the potential of having such an impact, then we must be very cognizant of how we interact with our students.  Every interaction, every lesson, and every word that we say to them has the potential of making a great impact on their life – whether or positive or negative.  If we give them praise after they complete a project, we can build them up.  Likewise, if we ever cast them a sigh for not having a pencil or an exasperated look for not having their Chromebook charger, we can tear them down.  Every interaction and every word has the potential for making them an empowered or discouraged student.

As I think of this impact, I find myself reflecting on my own interactions with my students and whether I am creating a positive classroom culture that will impact them in a positive manner.  While I feel that I have good rapport with my students and they enjoy being in my class, I want to be truly reflective on who I am as a teacher and if I am meeting the needs of every single student.  So, I’ve begun asking myself three, simple questions to reflect on the behaviors and attitudes that my students see of their teacher.

1.) Do my students see me as a person?

Although the lines of teacher/student should always be professional, I believe it is okay for your students to see you as a person who has their own interests and passions.  Students can better relate to you if they see that you share a common interest in movies, books, or other hobbies.  In addition to this, it is okay to show your personality through your teaching, whether it is relating to your experiences or simply joking with your students.  These positive and light interactions will put your students at ease in your classroom and it will allow them to see that you are a person, not just a teacher.

2.) Do my students know that I love my job as a teacher?

As you interact with your students, is it clear to them that you love being a teacher?  Do they see your passion for your job?  Do they see the excitement on your face as you teach?  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard students say, “I don’t think my teacher likes teaching.”  It’s heartbreaking.  As I mentioned earlier, teaching is not simply a job or a paycheck.  It is a career where you are interacting with students.  They need to see that you love teaching and that this is not simply a job for you.  They need to see that it is your passion.

3.) Do my students know that I know care about them? 

This is the most important question that you can ask yourself as a teacher.  Based on your interactions with your students, do you think that they know that you care about them?  Not just as students, but as individuals.  Do they know that you want them to be successful?  Do they know that you want them to have a good life?  I truly do not think I need to expand on this question much further because I think it speaks for itself.  Yet, I think it is the most important question that teachers can ask because, if your students do not think that you care, they will not be willing to learn.

The Teacher Transparency Challenge

As you think of your answers to these three questions, I challenge you to do something that might make you incredibly uncomfortable.  It has the potential to create some great reflection and some positive change in your classroom but only if you are willing to take this challenge.

I’ve created a survey that I plan on giving my students.  After all, my students are the only ones that can truly answer the questions that I’ve created.  Here are a few of the questions in the survey:

  • On a scale of 1-5, rate your enjoyment of this course.  Please describe why you gave the above rating. Be as detailed as possible.
  • What is one thing you like about this class? What is one way that it could be improved?
  • On a scale of 1-5, how much do you think that your teacher enjoys being a teacher? Please describe why you gave the above rating. Be as detailed as possible.
  • On a scale of 1-5, how much do you think that your teacher cares about helping you succeed? Please describe why you gave the above rating. Be as detailed as possible.
  • What are some ways that your teacher could help you be successful?

To view the survey, click HERE.

To make a copy of the survey, click HERE.

I’ll admit, I’m a bit nervous about giving this survey to my students.  On the whole, I feel like I have created a positive classroom environment for the majority of my students.  However, what if I am missing a few?  What if there are some students whom I need to give more support?  I want to be truly reflective of my interactions with and my attitudes towards my students.  After all, if your students do not think that you like your job or that you care about whether they succeed, they will never be truly open to learning from you.

So…Are you willing to take the challenge?

9 thoughts on “The Teacher Transparency Challenge

  1. I try to survey my students 3-4 times a year. Don’t be afraid of honest feedback if you want to better a better teacher. Great article. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! Yes, don’t be afraid of the honest feedback. I gave my survey this last week and received a lot of positive feedback but I also received some great ideas on how to better meet the needs of ALL of my students.

      One student in particular reminded me to not forget about my quiet students. So important! It can be so easy to not spend as much time on our introverted students because they don’t demand any of our attention. It’s one of my goals over this next semester.

  2. I do something similar for students to grade project worth in terms of student learning but I like that you take it up a notch asking for student voice about the teacher’s attitude about her job and ask about how teacher supports/can better support student success.

    I noticed that none of questions were required. Was this a remnant of copying the form or do you really not require answers?

    1. Thank you! Yes, I did not have any of the questions required. I wanted to leave the questions open so that they could respond if they wanted but were not required. Even though I didn’t have it as required, they still all responded! 🙂

  3. I’m reminded of the movie quote, “Be afraid, be very afraid.” That would be me when considering what my students might say; however, you’re right. Teaching is taking steps outside your comfort zone. Afterall, one of the reasons I wanted to be a teacher is to be always learning. How else can I get an idea as to what truly works and what doesn’t if I don’t ask my students? Duh, right?!? OK. I will give this a try. Gulp!

    1. It’s very scary, Cheryl! However, even in the comments that were more critical, I found myself evolving as a teacher. I would love to hear how it goes!

  4. I enjoyed this post a lot because sometimes educators are afraid of that feedback. In my research of trying to find innovative ways to redesign the most optimal classroom experience I stumbled across this blog. I think it is important as a first step to gain that feedback from youth but this poses several different questions, the first being what if a student is consistently advocating the same responses? I work with high school youth and found that sometimes they just do not like doing anything so if this was given to them they may just click through to finish it. How can we as educators obtain honest feedback from students who choose to not take advantage of this tool?

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