I’ve had a lot of requests via twitter to give a little bit more detail about how I do my exit interviews. I’m sure they could be about 100X better, but given the number of students I teach I’m not sure how to do this without making them a massive time sink.
Also, as a quick follow up to my previous post, I decided against giving students the rough guidelines for marks. No one brought it up again after asking initially, so I just let it go. It’s more interesting for me to see what they think anyway.
Prior to our exit interviews my students have a massive report card outlining their achievement on all the provincial outcomes (and my interpretation of how to break them down a bit). To help students process all this information I did a summarized “mark” of not meeting, beginning to meet, meeting and exceeding for each unit instead of each outcome. It was really helpful for me to be able to look at this also. Students also wrote a final exam prior to the interviews, which they hadn’t received any feedback/marks on. The final was the only thing all year that had a percentage put on it.
This year since we taught an integrated course, my teaching partner and I decided to do the interviews together for all subjects so we allotted seven minutes per student. In the past I’ve done five and am always able to stay on schedule more or less. I’ve really enjoyed doing parent & student interviews with my teaching partner this year as it’s nice to hear how my students do in other courses. Also, my partner is a feedback wizard and I’ve learnt a ton from just listening to how she talks with students and gives feedback. If you ever have a chance to work with an English teacher, do it, they’re amazing.
Students were asked to look over their report cards, projects, feedback etc and to reflect on a mark they thought would be appropriate. I explained it to them much like a salary negotiation. They would tell me what mark they felt they earned and justify why. If I didn’t think it was appropriate, I would counter with something else, and explain why. They were welcome to bring work, or challenge my counter “offer” with more examples and justification. It was also expected that their written final would support their choice of mark.
Honestly, this is the 3rd year (not consecutive) that I’ve done exit interviews this way and it’s slick. The students are pretty much always bang on with the marks they choose, and if anything are a little hard on themselves. It may help that I genuinely don’t know what the difference between an 85 and an 87 is, and don’t particularly care so I’m pretty comfortable letting students take the lead over nitpicking for half percents. The first few times I did this, I also went back and calculated a traditional average for all my students using all their unit exams and final to reassure myself that all was a-ok. Now I don’t bother (it’s a HUGE time sink) except in the case of students who have parents I think may be upset and challenge me (this year it was only one) just to cover my butt.
As for when I do the interviews, this year I had the students write their final during the final days of class. This was great for grade 9s because it allowed me to cut up their final into two pieces for them. I find that many of my grade 9s aren’t able to focus for the extended time of a regular final anyway. Extra bonus was it avoided the general squirellyness of the last couple days of school. This freed up their scheduled final exam time for interviews.
This year’s stats:
Tears during interviews: 0
Almost tears: 1
Students considerably out of wack: 4ish (none of these were failures)
Students not happy with their final negotiation/mark: 2
Suggestions for improvement/questions always welcome!