End Of The Year Student Survey
It is very important to give students the opportunity to evaluate and give input for each class you teach at the end of each semester/term. There are two important reasons for this:
1. To give each student a sense of ownership. This will improve attitude, hard work and overall performance if the students feel that their opinions and ideas are important. This is especially true in any ensemble where, in essence, it is their band. Without playing members there is NO group. (Band directors would be wise to always avoid the phrase “my band.” It is not yours.)
2. To give the director and staff honest feedback on what the students really think. Do notassume you know what the students are thinking and talking about amongst themselves. (You don’t know!)
The first time a teacher reads the feedback, it is sometimes shocking so brace yourself. There are usually a few dissatisfied students in even the best of classes so discount the most negative 10%. You also have to discount the super positive top 10% because there are always a few kids who think everything is wonderful regardless. (It is nice to have those kids though!) Really study the middle 80% of the feedback.
Many teachers are very reluctant to give students a chance to evaluate “their” class for fear of finding out the truth or because they think they know what is best and are not going to change because students do not like everything you do. Usually it is not a matter of changing what you do but “selling your product better.” For example, I always did a fair amount of graded music theory work in the band ensembles and found out in the first surveys that the majority of the students really hated it. Well I still thought it was necessary, and when I started doing a better job of explaining why it is important, following reports became much more positive. I referred to theory concepts frequently while rehearsing (“Is this major or minor?” “Who has the third of the chord?” etc.)
Too late for this year? School is already out? It is important that the Student Surveys are anonymous, and there are now online methods for doing this. (Check out Survey Monkey, other similar programs or get help from your school IT department.) Just email your students with the information and a brief explanation of why this is important to the teacher and that you take their responses seriously. Ask them to please be honest.
Check out more ideas and sample questions to ask in Chapter 14: Band Evaluations in The Dynamic Marching Band.
The real growth starts to happen in successive years to see how you and your students are changing and growing.
Have a great summer break!