As a fifth grade teacher in rural New Mexico, I didn’t even flinch when my student accidentally called me “mom.” It was already so clear to me: teachers are much more than instructors — they are equal parts parent, counselor, friend, and warrior to students. I came to understand the power of relationships in my classroom.
One day I began to greet my students by name when they lined up outside my classroom in the mornings. Most days, my students grumbled and rolled their eyes. But one morning, my thoughts were so occupied by the test we would be administering later in the day that I completely forgot my daily morning greetings. As I walked inside, my students immediately took notice. Secretly delighted, I quickly made up for my error by saying hello to everyone, one by one.
We are often too quick to dismiss the notion that small gestures are noticed by our students.
Getting feedback from students
These days, I think about ways of measuring and providing feedback from these same small gestures. At Panorama, we’re focused on equipping educators with the right tools, like research-based student surveys. That’s what most excites me about the Panorama Student Survey. This free, open source survey helps educators measure student perceptions on teaching and learning.
By collecting feedback on key constructs like student engagement, grit, and student interest in the class subject, it offers a new perspective on those teaching skills that are often difficult to measure. As a teacher, had I had this resource, I would have incorporated these surveys as part of my goal setting process, and really focused on allowing my students to see my own personal and professional growth as a teacher as a way of modeling growth mindset as an educator. Asking students questions about my teaching would allow for me to model the importance of constantly improving by using feedback to help me make informed decisions.
Getting student feedback is like watching yourself in a video recording. It can be hard to hear the honest truth about your teaching practice. I think the most difficult part of using student perceptions as part of teaching practice is having the time and space to reflect on survey responses. It's often most helpful to reflect among a community of other teachers who are also working on improving their practice. But this survey offers free access to a pool of feedback that would help me improve.
It's an exciting time to examine student feedback. There are so many teachers around the country who are already surveying their students to a certain extent. These are the teachers who recognize the importance of understanding the social-emotional aspect of learning that isn’t captured as well by assessments.
My hopes for teachers using the Panorama Student Survey reflect my own desires as a teacher — a desire to connect with my students in a way that made their educational experiences more meaningful. Ultimately, this is a tool that will empower their voice in the classroom.
Irene Chen is a client services manager at Panorama Education and previously taught fifth grade in New Mexico. Learn more about the Panorama Student Survey.