When I Asked for Their Advice

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 31, 2015  in: reading

Since I always try to focus on continuous improvement,  there are a few things I do at the end of every school year.  I assess students and enter grades.  I wrap up classes with game days and choice time. I clean and organize my classroom.  But most importantly, I ask for my students’ advice.

Asking for advice from kids truly empowers them.  I ask them a simple question:  “What could I do to make this reading class better?”  Then I stand back and watch them write their ideas.  This year was interesting as their advice covered so many areas.  They were thoughtful and took their time writing their ideas.  Authentic writing at its best!

I learned that they LOVE their reading time and wish they could read all during class every day. (I already knew that!)  A few reported that they really enjoyed the read alouds this year and wish we could do that more often.  They recommended a better way to keep track of their reading goals.  (I’m looking into Biblionasium for next year.)

One student drew a detailed sketch of a new desk arrangement that he thought would be better for collaboration (his words).  Several thought we need a better organization system for our classroom library and some added that we need to get rid of the books that no one reads.  (A few started weeding out the books already.)   There were book and series recommendations as well.  One thought we should abandon our book check out system since no one honors it anyway. (I agree!)

They recommended that we continue using iPads and Macs to create videos and projects.  They don’t like to write paragraphs or essays and prefer to create instead. (I knew that too.)  They reported that they loved using the green screen and showing their knowledge in more creative ways.

A few of them said there was nothing to change or improve – that they liked my class just the way it is.  “It is an amazing experience and that you should keep almost everything the same,” was one of my favorite comments!

I knew the kids would be honest and let me know what we need to change and what to keep the same.  It’s quite refreshing to hear ideas from their perspective.  A few years ago, I might not have been confident enough to ask the kids for help, but I’ve realized that to grow as an educator, I have to focus on continual improvement for them and for me.  I’ll probably make most of the changes that they recommended because I know they are truly good ideas!


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