Activating Student Voice in your classroom is a powerful way to increase student engagement and boost performance. Given the impact of Student Voice in many educational institutions, teachers are increasingly adding Student Voice to their Professional Development Plans (PDPs).
The easy part, of course, is adding a Student Voice section to your development plan. The more challenging step is determining how to implement a consistent flow of Student Voice in your classroom. As a teacher, where do you start? What steps are key?
We have compiled a 4-step checklist for truly activating student voice in your classroom.
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Step 1: Ask your students
It can be tempting to overthink how to implement Student Voice in your classroom.
It is important to remove any pre-conceived notion of how you might activate Student Voice. The best starting point is to simply ask your students.
A few questions you might ask your students:
In what ways would you like to have a greater say in your learning?
How would you like to contribute more to our classroom or school?
If you had a greater voice in your learning, what would form would you take
We recommend using a mix of techniques with your students. Face-to-face discussions will result in powerful stories, but are time consuming. Digital solutions will save you time. Using technology can also provide for anonymous responses, facilitating a more honest and authentic picture of student views.
Step 2: Reflect on student responses
Once you’ve collected data from your students, take a good hour to think about the responses.
Ask yourself a few questions:
What have you learned from your students?
What assumptions have been validated, and what have been humbly turned on their head?
What has surprised you?
You might even undertake this process with a colleague to check you haven’t missed anything.
As part of this reflection, you may even consider going back to your students to check your understanding. You could do this through a group discussion, or even a select number of 1-on-1 chats. Or, through a digital solution, you may ask for their views on a few ideas you already have.
Step 3: Implement and communicate change
Having collected and validated student responses to help support Student Voice in your classroom, now is the time to implement one or two changes based on that feedback.
A few things to note:
Make sure any changes are properly explained to your students – and check they understand
Be transparent in the thought process you have gone through. For example, relay back to your students one or two of the changes you're planning to make to further support their voice in the classroom
Don’t implement more than one or two changes at a time – better to have a couple stick rather than many that fall by the wayside
Explain that all changes are not set in stone, and that you’ll be asking for their input as time goes on.
Step 4: Evaluate and refine
Once you have made a few changes in your classroom or school, be sure to gain feedback quickly from your students. Try to discover as quickly as possible what’s working, and what needs further refinement.
The temptation is to keep any changes in place too long before you review them. But, this doesn’t do anyone any good – and can actually undermine the overall change you’re seeking.
So, be bold, ask for feedback early and regularly from students to truly activate their voice and drive their learning. It’s far better to ask two or three questions regularly than a long list of questions at the end of term.