being a teacher, communication, end of year, feedback, hopes, parents, trust

Why You Should Ask For Parent Feedback Even When You Are Afraid of the Answers

I just hit “Send” and for a moment my hand hovered over the “undo” button.  Perhaps I didn’t need to ask these questions, perhaps this year I would skip the annual end of year parent survey.  I don’t know why after 7 years of teaching, asking for feedback is still so excruciatingly tough.  Not from the kids, that I ask for every single day, but from the adults, the parents/guardians, the ones at home that see the effects of the teaching I do every single day.

For a few weeks I have wondered if I even wanted to send it this year.  If anything good would come from it, or if my self-esteem could handle it?  This was my first year teaching 7th grade and in so many ways I have felt like a brand new teacher with all of the flaws, the mishaps, the bad teaching that comes along with the first year title.  So now as the end of the year is in sight, I was compelled to just forget all about the feedback, pretend I don’t want to know, pretend to not care.

But that’s not the truth.  Because I do care.  Sometimes probably too much.  I know that I have screwed up.  I know that I could have been better at reaching every kid and teaching them what they needed.  I know I have failed some times, and I know some of my feedback will say that.  Some will probably crack my facade and make me feel pretty terrible.

And yet, if I don’t ask, I can’t grow.

So I let it go, and I now I wait, hoping for the best.  I hope there are some that will see how hard I tried to reach every kid.  I hope there are some that will see the thought, effort, and diligence that went into this year.  But I also hope there are some that will take a moment to give me advice, to tell me how I can grow.  Because I know I need to, and that is the bottom-line.  This is not about me, it is about the students.  And while I may have an idea of what I need to work on (and boy, do I ever), there is nothing like the perspective of a parent/guardian to show you things you never even thought of.  If we truly mean that we are in this for the kids, then we have to include those at home.  We have to ask the tough questions, even if the answers may sting.

If you would like to see my parent survey this year, here you are.  Student surveys will be done in class next week.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join ourPassionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

10 thoughts on “Why You Should Ask For Parent Feedback Even When You Are Afraid of the Answers”

  1. Hi Pernille,
    As always, your raw honesty resonates with me. I may not always comment but your posts always makes me think! I too am feeling vulnerable about asking parents (and kids) for feedback. I have been teaching for many years, I hadn’t taught 6th & 7th grades in a long time. Although it was generally a great year, there were some bumps in the road in terms of how I feel I did in the classroom. Of course, I could always do better. I had pretty much decided to skip the evaluation from students and parents, until I read your post. I am reconsidering what to do.
    Thanks for posting.

  2. I changed schools and grade levels this year as well. I have often felt as though I am drowning as I try to adjust to everything being new after 16 years. (When I moved from 5th grade to 1st a few years back I felt like a terrible teacher. It was an awful feeling after having finally felt like I was getting reasonably good at the job after a decade. This transition hasn’t been quite that hard.)

    Thank you for sharing your survey. I haven’t done this in a while but I think this is a good chance for me to get back into it at my new school.

  3. I’m wondering how many responses you usually get for your surveys. I ask my parents every year in an anonymous online survey format and only ever get 1 or 2 responses (out of 25+ families). If you have any thoughts on how to encourage more parents to participate, I’d appreciate it.

    1. I usually get at least a 50%response rate and it is through sheer repetition. Some years are better than others. It will be interesting to see how manyrbepondp this year with 117students.

  4. I haven’t asked for teacher feedback before and I should. Thanks for your post, I plan to ask for it this year for feedback and to help me plan for next year. I feel humbled reading your post myself. Thanks!!!

    1. Ps, I have 165 students this year, and 120 of them i will have again next year. Which makes the feedback especially valid, because many of the students I will have again!!! 🙂

  5. I think this is such an amazing idea, I will be doing it with my parents now thanks to you! What do the Q’s look like for your students? Similar?

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