being a teacher, feedback, grow, parents

Have You Asked For Parent Feedback – You Should, Even If It Hurts…

I click on the link nervously, not sure that I really want to read what I am about to see, and yet I must if I want to continue being a reflective teacher that realizes that she still has a lot to learn.  What has sent my palms into such a clammy mess?  Results from my end of the year parent survey….  Something I have forced myself to do the last two years, all in the name of bettering myself.

So why the trepidation?  Well, even though most parents don’t take issue with how I teach, or we iron things out along the way, sending someone an anonymous survey to fill out makes anyone nervous.  Particularly when those someones are people who have seen the direct result of your teaching on their child for a whole year.  Particularly when those someones speak to other someones who may just have a child going into 5th grade.  Particularly when those someones really have a right to tell you exactly how they feel because their kid is involved, which means they are involved.

And yet it took me 2 years to get to that point.  It took me that long to want to hear what parents truly had to say.  It took me 2 years to have enough confidence to be able to really listen without getting offended, without taking it like a personal attack.  Without feeling they were automatically in the wrong if they didn’t love everything I had done.

So now it is with gratitude, and of course still trepidation that I read the answers they provide.  I know I do school differently than most of them are used to.  I know my philosophy sometimes stands in a stark contrast to those of my amazing team members.  I know this 5th grade experience may be vastly different than that of 6th grade.  So I ask the tough questions and then hold my breath.  I ask how I can improve, what I should focus on next year,  whether I did a good enough job, because I truly do want to hear the answers.  I truly do want the truth so that I can grow.  There are always answers that go straight to my heart, those that make me reflect and rething, refine and reconsider.  And I am thankful for that.

Asking for feedback is never easy.  Listening to the feedback is even harder, and yet, I don’t look back.  I urge others to do the same; ask the questions and then really really listen to those answers.  Don’t ask because you feel you have to, ask because you want to grow.  Even if it hurts and stings.  Even if it is not what you had hoped to hear.  We are not perfect, or at least I am not.  I still have a lot of growing to do.

PS:  My parent survey changed a lot this year thanks to help from Kaitlyn Gentry who was kind enough to share her end of year survey with me.

6 thoughts on “Have You Asked For Parent Feedback – You Should, Even If It Hurts…”

  1. Great idea, Pernille. I am returning to the classroom next year and think this would be great to use for my own formative assessment. I wonder if doing this mid-year would be helpful. What do you think?

  2. After you get past the point of reckoning with the fact that there will always be room for growth, the next most difficult aspect of the parent survey results is that the results from one parent to the next differ so much–our parents represent a great variety when it comes to their vision for an ideal education.

  3. Thanks for sharing your survey Pernille! I have been thinking about doing one also, but I would like to do it a few times during the year with less questions. Since I plan on offering my students a menu of choices, I would like parent feedback on how that is going so changes can be made during the year. However, our school has had some past parents disagree with some new ideas, so I am a bit gun shy about doing one. I plan on surveying the students as well; something I have done once before and found helpful as it actually validated what I was doing.

  4. When I have done parent paper surveys in the past, I haven't had a very great response rate. Did most of your parents fill in the survey? Did you do anything special to promote greater participation?

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