Thursday, January 14, 2016

Do You Have the Guts to Ask?

Image by Alan Levine [CC BY 2.0]

After my last post, I tweeted a series of questions, challenging teachers (I suppose) to try asking their students for feedback about their teaching. Here's one:

One of my Twitterfriends, Amy Bowker, took the challenge, and tweeted this to her class Twitter account:

Wow, right? Talk about making yourself vulnerable and opening yourself up to possible critique! A few hours later, Amy shared this with me in response (and gave me permission to share it here as well):

Isn't that amazing?

Clearly, Amy's students think highly of her. Perhaps we might conclude it's easy to ask for feedback if we are pretty sure the response will be positive, right? I was glad that Amy also tweeted this in response:

Perhaps it's not so easy after all.

Teaching is a very public profession. Our students are always watching. Our colleagues and administrators might have a feel for how things are unfolding in our classrooms, but our students are ever-present. The very nature of our work is putting ourselves on display, and our students are savvy judges of our work. They are uniquely positioned to provide us feedback on our teaching practice, because they are the ones who are there for it, and they are the ones we are doing it for.


You are teaching "for them"...aren't you?

Would you dare to ask your students, "What do you think of my teaching?" Do you have the guts to make yourself that vulnerable? Are you brave enough to try it? And what difference could their honest feedback make for your teaching practice?


  1. I was kind of expecting you to react the way you did, since not much teachers give their students the choice that Mrs. Bowker gives us. I think it takes a lot of courage to let us write about her teaching techniques, and trust us enough to the point that she knows we won't take advantage of the privilege. Mrs. Bowker is a great teacher, she definitely deserves a best teacher award.

  2. I think that our teacher is really fun and fair because in the past years the teachers I have had always made school boring because they never gave us choice but since Ms.Bowker gives us choice it makes school fun and interesting and exciting for me. I also feel like Im learning things that I want to learn. -Abdullah

  3. This is so cool that our class is the unique one out of them all were lucky to have our teacher and she is lucky to have us as her students she gives us choice and we learn about what WE want to learn and i'm glade that you think our class is neat. !.! thanks

  4. I think our teacher is really nice she helped me when i had ups and down she is a really good role model she helped me threw alot and i really appreciate it.Also she is a AWESOME teacher so THANK YOU mrs.Bowker -Hana :D

  5. Mrs.Bowker is a very kind teacher. She's like %50 Friend and %50 teacher. She has helped me threw many many down times and many up times as well. She is always there for me, and is quiet funny, so if your having a bad day, she can cheer you up. She is also a good teacher cause she gives you choice, as well as making sure you are choosing something appropriate. unlike all my other teachers I have had in the past, they just don't care what you have to say, it's all about them and how they want to teach you. All the teachers that I have had all cared about getting paid, and being able to afford all what they want to purchase. -Tristan

  6. While I do think it takes courage to ask for feedback, I think even greater courage is required to implement change based on the feedback. I have been guilty in the past of quickly and defensively dismissing feedback as irrelevant or unfounded because I didn't like it, not because it wasn't true. I'd rationalize by mentally undermining the source or the feedback method, but the truth was that I didn't have the courage at the time to face the truth because I knew it would mean change.

    I've since recognized the need for and value of change in education, but it still requires degrees of courage to change and improve--courage that I often draw from supportive colleagues and PLN members. (Thank you!) As Ben Wilkoff reminds me, "Learning is change."

  7. I asked for feedback on Friday because of this:
    We had a good discussion, and students came up with three things I could do to help them help themselves! :D