What was good (or bad) about the lesson today? Explain.
This question leaves a lot out there, and it was one that was hard for me to manage properly at first. When you do student reflections in mathematics, I strongly suggest that you have a system to provide immediate feedback to students. For me, most of my reflection questions are given in the form of exit tickets, and before students are allowed to leave my room they have to bring me their response, I read it and then provide students with feedback. I will ask for clarification of their thoughts, provide a leading question if they are totally off the mark (which usually is in the form of “I don’t care about this and will write anything”), or provide positive feedback and an extension question to those students who have a great response. The biggest thing here is that students know you read their reflections and will provide them with some sort of guidance based on their perspective of the lesson (a built-in RTI if you will).
That last sentence is one that took me a while to totally understand and even longer to develop good ways to provide feedback that would guide and encourage my student at their level versus my own. Every year a student will complain that I do not help them. I now actually hope and anxiously wait for that moment to happen. When they do, I ask them to explain what they mean by that and to describe my actions in class that would support their stance. What usually happens is that students will voice that I do not help them with what they think they need. For too many students I have in class, that usually entails doing their work for them. They are trying to get by with whatever they can, and they are not subtle with it. Once they understand classroom expectations they accept them, I have had students defend those expectations to their parents. The biggest thing I have found is to take time and do short individual conferences with students every other week, they appreciate it and it shows in their effort in class.
Read what students are saying and reflect on how you perceive the lesson. Is there a better way to present the material? Are there activities or stations you could implement to increase engagement and learning? Do you accommodate all learner’s needs? Are you going at a acceptable pace for students? Are you giving students enough wait time? Are you encouraging all students in your class? Students will tell you what’s really happening in your classroom, tap into that resource and revise your plans in a way that will make learning better for you and your students.
Don’t feel bad about implementing an idea from your students, you aren’t any less of a teacher for taking a student’s idea and making a great lesson based on it.