Friday, March 6, 2015

What if you don't like what the students tell you?

"What would you do if we were all overwhelmingly against it? Would you keep doing it this way?"

That's what a student said today after I summarized the results of the online feedback they gave me about the class. I use a flipped learning model, and most students either preferred it or at least appreciated the benefits of it--more in-class time to work problems and get one-on-one attention.

That's when this one student asked his key question: What would I have done if it hadn't come back that way, if all of them hated the flipped model?

I had to think for a minute. I said I'd make sure the data supported the same conclusion, grades, etc., and if so, then I'd have to change it.

As it turns out, my classes' scores are similar to those of the other teachers, and if anything, better than previous years (though we've changed other variables, so it's hard to tell).

But his question is so important. Student voice is really about involving them in the decision-making process, not just gathering feedback. And it's more than that: What do we do when the evidence is against our strategies or beliefs? Do we ignore the evidence, or follow it wherever it leads.

It's hard to face failure or admit we've been wrong, but it's also tremendously freeing somehow, like breaking out of a cocoon. Our delusions, masks, misconceptions and denials are like weights that keep us from something better.

So bring on the error. Bring on the failure. Bring on the evidence that shatters my pet projects, favorite notions, and cherished beliefs. Bring on change. And improvement.

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