The Ol-Fashioned 1 to 10 Scale

Debate simmers nationally on value-added assessment: evaluating teachers based on the standardized test score gains kids make from September to June. What are other ways teachers can get feedback? Sometimes it can be simple.

In our teacher prep program, we ask every trainee to rate every class on a 1 to 10 scale, and then comment.

Here are the ratings I received yesterday. This was a class about Carol Dweck and her concept of "growth mindset."

My reaction:

1. My ratings are down from last session (not shown). That's quite useful in itself.

2. An 8 out of 10 is average for our program. Either we're good, or they're generous, or both.

So this chart, as published, might make me a bit complacent - the bars look high, but this is really a so-so performance.

Therefore, I usually re-set the scale, at least mentally, so it's a 5 to 10 scale.

3. Okay. That just makes things a bit easier visually. Now I turn to comments. Basically, I'm looking for the main themes, and then the outliers (which I sometimes respond to individually).

7 out of 10. The session was helpful but the idea of these two mindsets (growth and fixed) is just difficult for me to really get my head around. While I understand the importance of having a growth mindset and seeking out feedback, it's hard to always want to be "growth mindset." It kind of feels like you're never satisfied. Which is good -- but maybe also overly critical, which can be very trying. I just feel like I have a lot of soul searching to do on this front.

7 out of 10. I think we're bordering on too soft when we talk about psychology of the teacher (compared to the other session: How to build relationships with parents; how to give crisp directions in class, etc).

7 out of 10. This particular point has been beat to death.

Okay, so:

*Unclear as a concept *Unclear why we're still talking about it *Unclear that this will help me be a better teacher

Even some of the higher ratings amplified the clarity issue.

9 out of 10. I found this useful for myself -- I agree with some of my fellow corps members that Carol Dweck's model is somewhat constraining and feels so forced, but it was great to have a semi-structured way in which to think about how my projected firmness and self confidence has played out this week in tutorial. (Or the "synthetic" confidence I have created by prepping thoroughly for tutorial).

Obviously, these are all areas where I could have done better. My preparation needs to improve.

Yet immediately my brain tries to put some blame on Dweck. "It is her book that was unclear," I tell myself. "Not my teaching, which was fine."

I'm like an English teacher whose kids tune out of his lesson, and then he says "Well, not my fault, many kids don't like Shakespeare."

But the lapse is just momentary.

I recognize the desire to blame something external (Dweck!), and turn back to the feedback.

Useful outliers:

Maybe more small group discussion? I think our group might be too big for a large group discussion to be effective and engage everyone.

And another:

When it became clear that there was a misunderstanding or some confusion about what Dweck meant by her model, I wanted MG or someone to stop and say, "Ah, I see that you are confused. Let me clarify and let's move on" rather than "Let's get 20 people's feedback on this."

This goes to a classic teaching challenge:

When do I pick my moments of "Okay, let me tell you stuff, cuz I know it" versus trying to elicit the ideas from the group (which leads to them thinking more, remembering more, but also inefficiency and sometimes fuzziness)?