A 360-degree view of a teacher must take into account more than administrative observations, though those can be very beneficial. Thus, I seek input from co-workers, students, and parents. At the end of each semester, I ask parents to complete an anonymous survey online using SurveyMonkey.
There are many questions that you can ask parents in these surveys, but I try not to make my surveys too long. There are also many different ways to ask the questions. I chose to ask the questions using a "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree" rating scale, making "not applicable" an option. Next to each statement, I have an optional comment section so that parents can explain their responses. I also have an optional comment section at the end for parents to share additional thoughts and concerns.
Each of the agree/disagree statements I wrote focused on a particular area that I feel is important (i.e. communication, availability, valuing relationships, student learning, engagement, etc). These are the statements I use:
- Mr. Piedra has communicated effectively with parents/guardians.
- Mr. Piedra made himself available to meet with parents/guardians.
- Mr. Piedra has a welcoming and caring personality.
- Mr. Piedra values me as a parent/guardian.
- Mr. Piedra values my child as a student.
- My child enjoyed being in Mr. Piedra's class.
- My child likes history more today than a year ago.
- I would be excited if my other child(ren) had Mr. Piedra too.
- Mr. Piedra challenged my child.
- Mr. Piedra had high expectations for all students.
While it isn't my motivating factor, knowing that I intend to send this survey out at the end of each semester helps me to consider the parents of the kids I teach more frequently. Do they know what's going on in class? Do they know how they can help their child succeed? Do they have access to the SOLs/content I teach so that they at least can look like they know what they are talking about when they quiz their child? When, during a dinner conversation, their child says they learned "nothing" that day in school, are the parents able to respond with, "What about the geographic regions, didn't you learn about their location and characteristics today?"
The main way that I keep parents in the loop throughout the year is by sending a group email a week before every test. The purpose of the email is to inform the parents of the test and share ways that their child can prepare for it. I will also provide information about school-wide events or specific things we are doing in class. I find that parents love this communication and are very thankful for it. Here are some examples of the feedback I get from those emails:
I would like to say thank you for this. I have a very hectic schedule with both of my kids and I know as teacher you all are very busy as well. I just want to say thank you for giving us this heads up so I make sure I can be on top of everything.
Thanks for the heads up. Jeremiah* should be ready for next weeks test.
Thanks for the reminder! I will try to remember to quiz Eliza* at the dinner table. She's already refreshed my memory about that period in history, notably about Phyllis Wheatley. Good stuff.Maybe you'll consider sending your kids' parents a survey to seek their feedback. But, even if you don't, I believe that the least we as teachers can do is keep parents in the loop on a regular basis. Not only is it honoring to them, but it might contribute to greater classroom success!
*Student names have been changed to protect their identity.