Sunday, September 11, 2016

Conference Evaluations for Feedback & Reflection

One of my favorite things is presenting to teachers. I've fallen in love with working with adults that want to improve their practice. Nothing beats being in a room of educators nodding their heads as I share with them about topics I'm passionate about too.

Of course, there is a fine line between giving people what they want and presenting about topics you feel could push people's thinking and be about what the education profession needs. Dan Meyer wrote a post about this (and the comments are also important to read). It made me think, I'm certainly not just presenting to entertain people for an hour, but being entertaining helps get people's attention. I'm also not there to harp on reform and changes, but I wouldn't be my authentic self if I didn't slip a little of my progressive ideals into my presentation.

My formula lately is:
a little teaching philosophy (why) + resources (what) + pedagogy (how) + humor (I hope!)

There is a reason educators talk so much about feedback and reflection. They are both essential for learning. This is not only true for students, but for teachers as well! After presenting, I really appreciate getting feedback. Sometimes I create a Google form to collect feedback and other times a conference might collect a feedback form. I really appreciate that the MMC conference that I've presented at the past few years, takes the time to mail me the forms. Looking through them and reflecting on the feedback helps me become a better presenter and learn what it is that educators want and need from professional development.

I presented about some ways I use technology in the math classroom. I got 21 evaluation forms, and I think I remember there being that many people in the session. Here is a sample of some of the responses:

I'll start with the comments that made my heart sing.
"Inspiring," might be the best compliment I can get. I know how I feel when I attend a session and feel inspired. I'm so grateful and humbled that I could be that person for another educator.

The following ratings were the lowest I received. I wish I could get all 5's, all the time (I'm a people pleaser!). But I do realize I'm not going to be everyone's cup of tea. If I do get lower scores, I hope people will include comments because then I know what it was that they didn't like.
I like the idea of sharing a Google Doc where people can add ideas, or as the commenter said a "living document." I might try it next time! To the person that thought I was too "middle school," I do understand because that is my background and probably the examples I gave. However, I do feel that my information could be adapted to other grades, but maybe I didn't make that explicit enough. Finally, getting a form with all 3's and no comments is just torture. I want to know more-- what could I do better? what didn't you like?! 

I got two evaluation forms that surprised me. Both wrote comments that indicated they had heard me present before. Whoa, repeat attendees? Amazing! :)

So, overall, here are my mean scores from the 21 evaluation forms:
Knowledge of subject 4.76
Clarity of presentation 4.71
Organization of materials & topic 4.76
Ability to maintain interest 4.67

I look forward to presenting many more times this school year. Hopefully using this feedback and feedback I'll receive, I can make my sessions better for teachers that take the time to hear what I have to say.


  1. Nothing helps growth like reflection! The reflection that the participant is somewhat forced into at the end of a PD helps her reflect on her growth during the session and maybe helps him/her to accept that what you're dishing out is needed (kind of like veggies to a toddler!) Your true passion for what you're leading helps ignite growth in everyone!

  2. Yes! Feedback and reflection are so important. I think it's important that when we receive feedback we cannot be defensive and be making excuses or else we can never grow and improve ourselves. Thank you for this reminder Annie!

  3. You used my comment card! This also really helped to remind me how much more important comments are than naked numbers. As a presenter, what can you learn, and how can you grow from the person who gave you straight 3's and no narrative?

    1. Yay! Thanks for coming to the session and for reading my blog. I appreciate you! :)