How to Ensure Quality in Your Classrooms

Sunday, September 13, 2020 Blog post author: Lauren Lauren
How to Ensure Quality in Your Classrooms

Your language school is an institution for learning, for cultural sharing, and for love of languages - but it's also a business. As with any good business, you need to be sure your customers (your students) are receiving the highest quality product. In this article, we'll take a look at a few ways you can ensure your students have the highest quality classroom experience. We'll cover:

  • Early session check-ins
  • Teacher evaluations
  • Course evaluations

This year, many learning institutions are undergoing big changes in record time as we all adapt to new precautions and concerns in the wake of COVID-19. Now more than ever, it's important to ensure that your students are getting the best experience in their language learning classroom. If you need any help in creating the most efficient evaluation systems for your school, contact us to learn more about our free school management software.

Early Check-Ins

Checking in with New Students

End-of-course evaluations are common practice in most language institutions (and one of the recommendations on this list), but the catch with these evaluations is they only occur when the course is finished. If your students were unhappy with some of the ways in which the course was operating, you only find out when it is too late to improve the experience of those clients. Students tend to contact the school administration with larger complaints as they arise, but when it comes to the more small scale problems, students may wait until the end of the term to let you know what wasn't working. In certain cases, these smaller issues may be the difference between signing up for more lessons or not.

One way of catching customer concerns early on is to check in with your students after the first week of classes. While some schools implement regular evaluations (after every class or every week), one issue with that level of frequency is that the constant evaluations may become the element the students don't like about your classes! Also, it may encourage students to find issues where there are none. You don't want to be receiving feedback about the teacher sneezing too much one day or the truck outside the window constantly reversing!

Our recommendation is one early evaluation after the first week of classes (depending on the length of the course). Because it is early in the course, you don't want to ask an exhaustive list of questions, but just put out a feeler to see if there is anything you should be aware of. For example, you could send a message like the following to your new students:

We hope you are enjoying your first week of classes at XOX Language Learning Centre! We know how important a great class experience is to your education, so we want to ensure you are getting the most out of this language learning opportunity. If you have a moment, let us know how we're doing so far.

  1. How are you finding the courseload so far?
  2. Are there any resources you are missing to better succeed in this class?
  3. Any general comments or concerns you would like to share with the administration?

If your school has opted for a online learning model, perhaps you want to adapt your questions to reflect the specific conditions of online teaching. Again, what is important with this kind of check-in is giving your clients the opportunity to speak with you directly so you have the opportunity to make changes as needed. Open dialogue with your students is essential. You want the school to be the first to hear about any issues.

For more info about online education, check out these Demiks articles:

Checking in with your Teaching Team

Any entrepreneur will tell you the same thing: invest in your employees from the beginning to create a culture of success and support in your business. Make a happy teaching team a core value of your business. The same should be true of your language school. If your teachers are happy, your teachers are your teammates. Because your teachers are the ones in the classroom, they should be the first to see what is and isn't working.

As with the students, we recommend scheduling an initial check-in with your teachers shortly after the start of a new class. The check-in can take the form of a short meeting or videoconference. Ask your teachers if there are any students who seem to be having troubles or any students who are causing troubles. A disruptive student can weaken the classroom experience of their peers, so try to have an idea of any students who may need special attention - or a reminder of classroom policies.

Ask your staff if there are any resources they are missing or any items which could be helpful in the classroom. Ask them if they expect to be able to move through the course material in keeping time with the projected timeline. Often times, classes with adult learners can be subject to delays due to students not completing homework assignments outside of the classroom. Teachers are left with the dilemma of pushing forward to maintain objectives even if some of the students have not yet grasped all of the materials or slowing down the course rhythm and potentially failing to meet some of the promised objectives of the course. If you speak with your teachers early on to get an idea of the pace of the course, you can speak to the students about solutions. If students are involved in the decision of changing the pace of the course, they will be less likely to feel as though something didn't work out properly.

Teacher Evaluations

Teacher evaluations at the end of the course are crucial in giving you an idea of how your students are responding to your teaching staff. Be sure to provide some more conisderate questions for the students to answer - beyond just a star system. You want to have an idea of concrete things the teacher can improve (for example, enunciation or explanations of activities) and not just a sense of whether or not students liked the instructor. Here are some good questions to consider for your teacher evaluations:

  1. Did the teacher speak clearly?
  2. Did you feel comfortable bringing questions to the teacher?
  3. Was the teacher able to clearly explain exercises and lessons?
  4. Is there any area in which you think this teacher could improve?

Course Evaluations

As with the teacher evaluations, course evaluations should be thorough without being too long. You want to get a sense of the workload, the pacing, the clarity, and most importantly, the students' sense of their own progress. Here are some good questions to consider for course evaluations:

  1. Was the workload for this course more or less than expected?
  2. Did you feel you had time to grasp the essential concepts in this course before new concepts were introduced?
  3. How clear were the objectives of the course for you?
  4. Do you feel you have progressed in your language skills because of this course?

Student Evaluations

Student evaluations can take the form of exams, essays, presentations, etc. When your students start a new course, it is a good idea to have them begin with some sort of quiz or evaluation. The function of this first evaluation is to give them a measure of where there level was at the beginning of the course vs. at the end of the course. For an easy way to send your students quick evaluations, try out the Demiks Teacher App which allows you to create and send evaluations directly to your students, so you don't have to lose big chunks of class time to evaluations. Again, moderation is key. You want to have an idea of whether or not the students are connecting with the materials in the class, but you also do not want them to feel like they are constantly being tested. At the end of the course, it is a good idea for you to compare entry and outcoming evaluation results, but also to give the students an opportunity to compare these elements.

Read more if you have any questions about how to use our free online school management software in order to better maintain the quality in your classrooms, or contact us to talk about what solutions may be best suited to you!

Blog post author: Lauren
Lauren Clinton is an English language instructor, PR consultant, translator, and editor based in Montreal. She has lived, learned, and played music all around Canada and beyond.

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