Feedback from clients and customers is imperative to improving products and services. This is a simple, tried, and true business strategy. Guess what! Many teachers also use it.
My first year of teaching I gave back tests to students. My idea was to review answers and have students learn from their mistakes. I soon learned that students could care less. In fact, they forgot about the test within five minutes after its completion. Luckily for me I had Omar in class my first year of teaching. He loved when we reviewed the tests. It was obvious he did not prepare for any test, as he never did any work in class. Nonetheless, he was ready to argue every answer as I went over it. His goal was to use the entire period to discuss a test and do no other work. The rest of the class would lose interest, and Omar would enjoy the attention and avoidance of other classwork.
It only took me two test review days to come up with the anti-Omar plan. I decided that I would review the test giving the correct answers and allow students to write a persuasive argument on why the question was misleading, bad, or confusing. Students could also look up passages from the text to support their argument. This eliminated wasted class time for the amusement of one or two students and forced students to write persuasively with specific supporting examples. Interesting enough, Omar did not feel the need to argue any more, since it was going to take effort. However, the quiet and conscientious kids loved this method to respectfully explain their answer choices. This feedback also let me analyze the test questions. After all, it is possible for a teacher to write a bad question once in a while.
Another example of listening to my clients, or students, is when a few gave me ideas for projects. The latest suggestion was asking me to allow students to create a song about the novel Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers. Thus, I created enrichment activities for the students that included the song idea, creating a movie trailer, creating a slide show using photopeach.com, or interviewing a veteran of the war in Iraq. I do not know how many students are working on this extra credit assignment right now, but I listened to the clients and gave them an opportunity. Now, it is up to them.
I enjoy feedback from my clients. I also know that many teenagers want to find the easiest way to accomplish work. (Truthfully, so do I.) Nevertheless, I realize that sometimes it takes hard work. But, those of us with customers or students need to listen them for ideas.