It’s one of the highlights of the year. From around 4pm to 5pm we’re just hanging around our desks, catching up with emails, taking care of paperwork or tidying up classrooms. Then at around 5pm we start to hear muffled teenage conversations in the corridors of the school… it’s time to go outside and start welcoming our guests: last year’s IES graduates are back!
Every year we send out an invitation and an anonymous questionnaire to all our graduates from the previous year. We want to know what they think of our school and the education we provided them. Ultimately the question is: now that you have been away for 6 months and have a fresh perspective: did we prepare you well for your studies at gymnasium?
The basic answer we get back is “yes”. We can never rest on our laurels or be over-confident: I believe in “you are only as good as your last game” as a philosophy of continuous self-improvement. That said, each year we get the feedback that confirms that we have done a good job in a wide range of areas and that we have room for improvement in a few.
The positives: we prepared them well, we pushed them hard, we set fair grades (if slightly hard), they miss the food, the enthusiastic teachers and they miss the focused and secure environment. The areas for improvement: they feel they need pushing harder in Modern Foreign Languages and they would like a bit more Swedish vocabulary in Science and Maths… and they wanted us to know they they used the elevators even though they weren’t supposed to!
After analysing the questionnaire they filled out in advance, we meet them for the Alumni reunion itself. We catch up, we eat fish n chips and we have focus group interviews. We dig a little deeper into the things we could have done better. How exactly is it different now that you’re at gymnasium? What specific skills do you think we need to drill harder? Before you know it, it’s time to let them go as the evening is already over.
Then we have two jobs still to do. One: to take on their feedback into our work, and two: to try to get them to actually leave the building!