Survey Says


This semester I have written about my huge ego, seeking help from peers, learning from podcasts, and bringing in experience from previous jobs. This time, I want to focus on who matters most: my students.

As a new teacher, I am seeking feedback and guidance everywhere. Last year, I had my students fill out an anonymous survey about my performance.

I wanted my own report card. Last year, I wanted to know if the students thought I did a good job. Through a series of multiple choice and open ended questions, I saw how my students saw me. There were a few takeaways, but really the survey served as a pat on the head or a gold star on my paper.

This year, on a whim, I gave the survey the last day of the first semester. I changed the survey a bit however.

This activity brought me two inspirations this month. First, this query helps me with these students, this school year. Next, I had a realization about the tool itself.


What I found:

I asked them about how we spent class time, what we could do better, and whether they perceived me as approachable.


Clear results from my freshmen English students-

  • They love in-class time to read a book of their choice. 87% of my students said they saw the value in reading independently in class, and 42% said they wish they had more time to read in class.
  • Students want more time to practice with computers. 96% of the students stated they valued our weekly typing practice, 71% asked for more time with typing practice specifically.
  • They are shy and want me to know that. This came across multiple opened ended questions, so I can’t quantify this. The results were overt however. They said they may need help, they may think I’m helpful, but they are too shy and timid to admit they need help or to come see me before or after school.


The first two bullets help me stand firm in that use of time, and I wonder where I can sneak more opportunities for these things for them. The last bullet point is something I naturally knew about students, but reading how many wanted me to know this incites me to figure out a solution. I will spend time over break alone and with colleagues (and hopefully in the blog comments!) trying to figure out ways to alleviate this barrier.


The survey itself:


In a admittedly quick analysis, one thing that stands out to me is that my unscientific survey can benefit from peer revision. I bet my phrasing frames certain responses. I would wager biases I do not realize are present as well. It is possible I am misreading responses to fit them into my desired narrative.

So, now I’ll be sure to have peers look over the results and see how they take the responses. I want to work with my PLC to overhaul the survey and use the survey not only for us in this year, but to give meaningful insights every year to the sophomore teachers at our school.

With work, this anonymous survey can help us hear and react better to the shy, quiet, and overlooked students.

I hope my PLC’s are open to the idea not only in assisting me, but assisting our whole campus.


What about you all?

Have you given surveys in the past?

What types of questions have you given or what results have you seen?

And moreover, does anyone have concise strategies to help reduce anxiety or to overcome the timid tendencies of our students?

Thank you all for the input!



James King

My favorite words are “dapper” and “adventure.” With an unkempt proclivity, I manage to exemplify only one of these words into my classroom every day. The reason I chose English is simple: adventure lives in books. I get to take students wading into the Mediterranean, strolling along the Mississippi, or hiking the Himalayas without leaving their desks.

I teach at my alma mater, after using 12 years to explore the world – beyond the verse, poetry, and prose I adore. I spent time traveling Central, and North America, The Caribbean, and Europe. I worked at Walt Disney World for many years, ultimately overseeing training for 50,000 employees. Entertaining and serving guests from all around the world, I also trained and managed international employees.

I was a substitute teacher in the nation’s third-largest school district for 4 years and graduated from the University of Central Florida. My education degree emphasized English, Communication, and Commerce; this assisted me in obtaining English Language Arts and Career and Technical teaching certifications here in Arizona.

Aside from grading, reading, tweeting (@PhxJayKing), and blogging, I also sponsor a surprising popular Book Club on campus, and you might find me playing sand volleyball any given night of the week.

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