You can see elsewhere my super-long report on the 2016-2017 school year, which provides some context to the data. I can summarize that background information with these caveats:
- The 2016 election & aftermath impacted my curriculum (e.g. addressing the Electoral College much sooner than usual), distracted me personally and professionally, and affected classroom dynamics. Everybody seemed stressed and uncertain, amirite?!
- I had struggled to find a consistent groove and routine all year, thanks to personal sickness, 2 family emergencies in the spring, and support staff difficulties.
- By the time students took this survey on June 1st, they had not watched a flipped video or taken a regular assessment in 3 weeks (because of standardized testing and a class trip in May). These are really gut-reaction responses.
All things considered, I'm not going to beat myself up about the lower-than-usual 64% "approval rating". I was on survival mode for much of the school year, and when you're just trying to get through then compromises must be made. Actually, I'm kind of surprised that the rating wasn't lower! These students did not get my best work this year ... more like a B- compared to last year's B+/A- achievement. I must take full responsibility, although considering the circumstances I'm not sure I could have done much better. This is why the wonderful school years feel so good: they don't happen every time! Sometimes you don't quite click with the students, or they with you. Sometimes the outside world reigns supreme, and your schoolwork takes a hit. (Remember: That happens occasionally for students, too!)
1) Get all the September lessons, activities, etc. completely prepared before the first day. I did too much "big-picture" planning and thinking in August, and not enough logistical preparation. Some was election/politics-related, so I won't have that in 2017. But I absolutely must get the first few weeks under control, so I can respond more effectively to surprises (like new students, schedule changes, etc.). That might mean starting the year a little boring, which is OK because you can always go up from there.
2) I will report problems more loudly and more swiftly to administration, especially about teaching-assistant issues. Kids refused to work with her; they avoided opportunities to re-watch and re-take, just to stay away from that TA. Of course that negatively impacted their learning, and also their attitude toward my class. I wasted time and effort trying to help make that situation work, and suddenly it was "too late" to terminate that individual. Really it was the students who suffered, and I learned a tough lesson about the importance to advocate for them.
3) You must be honest and direct with students about your grading system, especially the unusual parts. I dug deeper into students' complaints about my quizzes, particularly why missing 1 question would require a re-take. I found that they did not understand my desire for mastery -- I had never told them why!! Or if I did, they couldn't remember. When I explained these are the basic facts they "Need2Know" for deeper discussions or projects or whatever, then they get it! Perhaps I could have avoided some strife and grumbling with just a 10-minute conversation in September....
So, what have we learned? Flipped instruction is durable, flexible, and effective enough to survive whatever 2016-2017 could throw at it. Now it's summer so...