Welander’s reflection form: a way for introverted students to connect

February 8, 2022 — by George Huang
Photo by Minsui Tang
Facilitated by six-week reflections, students said they feel more comfortable posing personal questions

At the end of every grading period, AP Physics teacher Matthew Welander posts an assignment on Canvas titled “6-week reflection.”

It starts out with the typical questions found on most feedback forms: How do you feel about the class? What’s challenging? How would you rate your stress levels on a scale of 1 – 10?  

At the very end of the form, he asks the question his students eagerly anticipate: 

What is one question you’d like to ask your teacher?

Welander’s feedback forms have become a class tradition. As long as the questions are appropriate, students may ask about a wide range of topics. After gathering the responses, Welander answers questions from the list during the last few minutes of later classes. 

For Welander, it’s a way to allow introverted students to feel more comfortable asking him personal questions. 

During the first few weeks of school, students tended to ask about class policies and study tips. But, according to Welander, as the year has progressed the students realized they could take advantage of the reflection form to ask personal questions.

Welander started this tradition five or six years ago when he went to a series of workshops designed to help teachers form personal relationships with their students. 

In the responses, Welander receives a wide variety of personal questions ranging from his workout routines to advice for stressed seniors. 

I think the funniest ones are when people pick up on my interesting traits,” Welander said. “And when they do, I get a lot of questions about those.”

For him, the reflection exercise is a fun, easy and non-threatening way to get to know students better. As an introvert himself, Welander said the form forces him to be outgoing in ways he wouldn’t ordinarily.

 

Junior Kevin Zhao said, “I always love opportunities to get to know more about my teachers. I can listen to his answers to not only my questions, but also the questions my classmates ask as well, and sometimes they are things I haven’t thought about.”

The segment of the class is so popular that students are always looking forward to the next one.

“I’ll have people asking, ‘When are we going to do the next one?’” said Welander. “Overall, I think different teachers have different ways to get to know their students. I’d recommend whatever method they’re comfortable with.”

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