Since Term 3, I have been making a conscious effort to use “Student Voice” in my Year 8 class. It started with a simple game of Hide and Seek and has changed my relationship with the students. I have taught these students since Year 7 and I have noticed the changes in the way they interact with me. In order to facilitate these changes, I’ve had to re-think how I interacted with them. I also had the support of my team to allow students to be more vocal in their learning.
In reviewing the PBL unit on the Black Death, I asked students to complete an evaluation form. This was the first time they had to choose how they wanted to learn and complete their own tasks and I was interested in hearing their opinions.
One of the questions on the evaluation form was: “What did you like about this unit?”
“I liked this unit because we learnt in our own way without the teacher teaching us” – Student 1
“It was really challenging and interesting to me”- Student 2
“I liked how we could control the task by ourselves”- Student 3
“I liked that we didn’t have to stay and listen to the teacher giving instructions. We did our own work and what we had to do and also liked it when we listen to music”- Student 4
“That we actually had a choice to do something instead of doing what was planned”- Student 5
Student 5 has been the one responsible for the increased use of student voice in my class. Since our conversation in term 3, he has become quite vocal about how he wants to learn. He’s realised that I am interested in his ideas and opinions and am willing to implement them in my class. Since then I have seen a remarkable change in his behaviour. He is more engaged in his learning. He often assists me in getting the class to be quite, enjoys doing marking the roll for me and constantly volunteers his ideas in class discussions. He still gets distracted at times but out of my class of 42 students, he has made the most significant progress. He works harder to complete his work and will readily admit when he is struggling. 12 months ago, he would refuse help, get distracted or distract others and his work would rarely be completed. Just by giving him a voice in the class has changed his behaviour in my subjects. The other students respect him and follow his lead.
Seeing this change in Student 5 has made me realise the following:
- “Student voice” is a necessity: I make a more conscious effort to ask the students for feedback on the lessons. It helps me get to know their learning styles better.
- Learning space: I try to be more open-minded in letting the students choose their learning area and space (some choose to work at tables, others on couches with the rest scattered on the floor).
- Groupings: I am more flexible in allowing students to choose who they want to work with. Some like working independently whilst others work better in groups. I don’t have to be worried that they won’t work.
- Trust and Respect: It is a challenge to win the trust and respect of all students in a class. By allowing them to voice their opinions and by implementing it in my classroom, I have gained their respect and trust. They are more open about themselves, they are happier in the classroom and I’m starting to see increased levels of engagement in their learning.
It is now my challenge to use Student voice more in my Year 7 and Year 9 classes. With them it will take a while as I don’t know them as well as the Year 8s (who I’ve taught for nearly 2 years in a row). However having noticed the changes in the Year 8s, it is imperative that my teaching team and I focus on it, as it will improve the students’ engagement in their own learning as well as allowing us to help them learn in a way that suits them.
This post is written as part of the #blogsync challenge for Connected Educator month.