Did you like my lesson?

This is a question I sometimes hear from a participant after a (practice teaching) lesson on an intensive training course. It is usually asked privately, when everyone else left the room. It is (almost always?) asked right before the ‘official’ feedback session on this lesson, and most of the times, even before a participant sits down to write down his/her own initial thoughts and feelings about the lesson.

I don’t like this question. First of all, this often only implies one answer (‘Yes, the lesson was great!’ or something like this). The teacher asking this question does not want to hear something like this ‘Well, the lesson today was better than last week, but you still need to work on …. ‘(insert an idea/technique/skill). Second, the participant asking this question might be seeking for confirmation/validation/justification before the coming feedback session. I have heard group discussions later during a feedback session when a person says ‘But the trainer liked my lesson anyway!’, or similar things. Third, the teacher asking this question might be simply refusing to reflect and would like to use the trainer’s (positive!) comment as the only lens of analysis. Also, this teacher asking the question is often a very experienced teacher. Finally, the question is oftentimes asked as a beginning of a conversation in an attempt to (a) elicit my feedback before the feedback session and (b) defend/explain/justify the tasks/materials, etc. used during the lesson.

So what do I actually answer? I nod, smile, look at the teacher’s eyes, say that s/he had worked hard on planning and teaching this lesson, and that the students seemed to be learning and enjoying the class (if this is true, of course) I then say something about the break/lunch/printing my written notes, etc. — anything that might help me avoid the detailed conversation about the lesson in question. Yes, trying to be positive, tactful, even polite – but… not to answer.

Can you see a heart shape here?

Can you see a heart shape here?

Now, re-reading the paragraph above, I am wondering if my analysis has all been only negative. What other possible reasons for asking this question might exist? Perhaps the teacher has just tried out something very new in his/her class, something s/he has never thought about doing before (examples from my recent course: a reading lesson using a tea box as authentic text, a jig-saw reading lesson, a writing lesson with beginner-level students, etc.) It is possible that the lesson had unusual number of students (much more than usual, with several new-comers, or much fewer than usual, with many students leaving towards the end of a lesson) It is possible that a teacher had a bad headache, or a sick kid at home, or…. anything else in life that might need an extra smile and a small praise from another human-being (not a trainer, in this case)

How do I know which situation is which? Is there a ‘rule’ I can apply, even to myself? What do/would you answer if you hear a question like that after a lesson you observe?

Finally, did you like this post?


About Zhenya

teacher educator, evidence-based instruction trainer, PD Coach https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Trainer Reflections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Did you like my lesson?

  1. Tesal K. Sangma says:

    I really like the final question. And I did like your post, genuinely. 🙂


    • Zhenya says:

      Thank you very much for the warm comment Tesal! I am curious how you would answer the question about the lessons. Maybe ‘genuinely’ is the key word actually… Thank you for making me think! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joanna Malefaki says:

    Hi Zhenya!

    I never really asked, ” Did you like the lesson?” I am either negative and just pinpointing all the negative things I did and say, ” So, I shouldn’t have done yada, yada, yada” or say, ” How was the lesson?”

    Great post btw!


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Joanna

      Thank you for the comment and for sharing your experience as a course participant/learner. In fact, ‘How was the lesson?’ sounds a little more open to me – giving more freedom to a trainer in replies. Also, looks like you were thoughtful and reflective, even more on a critical side (starting to think about what should not have happened)

      Thank you for reading!


  3. Marc says:

    I think the questions that trainees should be asking are:

    ‘Did learning occur?’

    ‘Did I make the most of learning opportunities?’

    ‘What would you have done? What effective things have previous trainees done in similar lessons?’

    The first two need to be asked to oneself first.

    As for ‘like’, does this really have a place in professional dialogue? If my Diploma tutor told me she liked something I’d expect to know why. Efficiency? A new way of doing something? We need to be, and ask for, specific in feedback.

    Thanks for this very pertinent post.



    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Marc

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment. First of all, agree with the questions you wrote that can be asked after the lesson: I like the focus on learning in them. Something I also encourage teachers to do right after the lesson is to think about their students: reaction, progress, using target language from the lesson, feedback to the teacher (formal and informal, in L1 or in English, etc.) To me, this ‘student thinking’ might help teachers forget about the ‘teaching’ part and focus on learning more. It is a process, however, and does not happen immediately. Well, at least, not for all people.

      You asked: ‘As for ‘like’, does this really have a place in professional dialogue?’ – Probably not, especially if we think about ‘professional’ as purely focusing on the subject, knowledge and skills, etc. Now, teaching (and learning) to me are those areas where personal and professional go hand in hand together (maybe more than we are sometimes aware). Another belief I hold is that as a trainer I am still modeling (potential) teacher-student relationships. That means wearing a ‘human hat’ in some aspects. Yes, the detailed and specific feedback is coming in – in my notes on the lesson and plan, and in the group session analyzing the lesson’s strengths and areas to work on. It is just the ‘liking’ part that is sometimes needed (for some teachers, not all)…

      Thank you for helping me articulate more thoughts on this!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marc says:

        I appreciate that the professional part and the personal part come together but I’m just not sure that ‘like’ means very much now other than an endorsement. ‘I can see the effort you put in’ would probably be better than a ‘like’ but then I am me and not anyone else. I probably need to be a bit gentler to others.


        • Zhenya says:

          Yes, I really like ‘‘I can see the effort/hard work/thought [etc.] you put in’ as a great reply to that question. I might need to be ‘less friendly’ to participants, if I may say so – but then again, I am me 🙂 Great discussion, thank you very much Marc!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Offering an interpretation, maybe they ask because they equate learning to fun (Like=enjoy). It makes me think of the recent posts about fun and teaching English that have been going around. If they believe this, then they might see you as the authority. They’ve liked some of your sessions after all. 😉

    I also think this question is asked because they feel vulnerable and need some validation.

    As to how to handle it? I would say that if it’s before a feedback session, and you have time, it could be worth reflecting back, “did you like it?” It would be interesting to see what they came up with. It could give you insight into what’s really behind the question. They may need a lot of emotional support, or they may have a belief that fun equals learning. Or maybe something else.

    I think it’s ok to help them see that “like” is not the aim here. And sometimes you may need to be indirect with your approach , and sometimes you may be able to tell them directly.

    Thanks as always for making me think!


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Josette

      Thank you very much for thinking together with me!

      From the first paragraph you wrote I suddenly had an insight: yes, maybe asking that question is referring to me as an observer/spectator and simply asking about the emotional part: was watching the lesson fun? Engaging? Yes, feeling vulnerable and a need for validation is something to keep in mind, too, especially if we have participants with years of experience (my latest course had people who have taught English for 10-30 years!), and if this is the first time for some of them to be formally observed by a group of colleagues.

      Yes, I love the idea of asking ‘What about you?’ – a simple strategy, which in combination with some listening, gives a lot of food for thought. I am also thinking now that having a small group discussion about the nature of ‘like’ might be very helpful (as you said, ‘liking’ and having fun is a hot topic now, and sometimes it is perceived as the goal in itself). This discussion might also help me as a trainer to explain why I am not necessarily ready to ‘like’ a lesson I observe! 🙂

      Thank you for the comment, for the ideas, and for understanding!


  5. Pingback: Lesson Feedback - DreamreaderDreamreader

  6. ven_vve says:

    Hi Zhenya,

    I’m thinking right now about classes/teachers I’ve observed and can actually only remember one or two classes that I didn’t like, or, rather, where there were more points that I felt required attention than there were strengths, so I think – if someone asked – I would probably be able to say yes and mean it. That said, I don’t think that liking something automatically means you can’t see any room for discussion or possibly improvement.

    I agree with those who said in their comments that there are many other questions the trainee should be asking instead, and I think I would probably try to see during the feedback session what might have prompted them to ask this one first.

    I did like the post. 🙂


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Vedrana

      Thank you for the comment! Reading your first paragraph I realized that when I observe(d) a regular class at a school (I mean, not a lesson as a part of an intensive training program) I feel much more comfortable to ‘like’ a lesson openly. Note: a regular class means there is one teacher and one observer (me), and a feedback/reflection session is also between the two of us, and at a time convenient (sometimes on the following day, for example) On a training course, it is a group feedback session – with more than just my ‘pair of eyes’ focusing on the lesson.

      Agree about observing and listening during feedback session to what might be the actual reason to ask such a question. Reading comments and thoughts makes me think that this is possibly a more interesting research than I had imagined!

      Thank you for commenting – as always, food for thought!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ven_vve says:

        Yes, of course – this distinction between a regular class and one that is part of a training program is very important. Thanks for pointing that out. I was referring to the former, as you correctly observed. 🙂


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