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Student voice for relationship building, identifying gaps, and modifying teaching practice

Heath is a Year 2 and 3 teacher at Stonefields School in Auckland. He uses student voice across a range of learning areas to help him to gain a better understanding of how engaged his student are in their learning and what they are getting out of their learning. It also helps him to identify any potential gaps and to modify his practice. Heath has also found that gathering student voice supports him to build relationships with his student. 

Using Google Forms to collect student voice

At the end of each term Heath uses Google Forms to gather student voice in each of the key learning areas. Using Google Forms gives students the freedom to reply in their own space and the students feel comfortable to say what they really think. Before getting the students to complete the form, Heath will have a class discussion and brainstorming session to help his students reflect on their learning. He also encourages the students to go back and look at their learning logs (an online record of what they have done that term) and the digital modeling books.

The questions Heath asks

The questions focus on the students’ learning rather than on Heath’s practice. However, they do offer useful insights for Heath on how he might adjust his teaching practice. Because of his students’ age, Heath tends to ask yes/no questions and then asks a follow up question where the students have to explain and justify their response. Google Forms enables you to manipulate the follow up question depending on whether students answered yes or no. The justification is particularly useful for helping Heath to understand any areas that he needs to focus on or modify in his teaching and which students might need some additional support.

Heath frames his questions carefully. For example, rather than asking students what they did not like, he asks them what they found challenging, so that the students focus on their learning. He also asks students to identify what they think their learning goals were for the term to ensure that they understand and have captured the key focus. If he has introduced a new tool, app or approach, he will also seek student feedback about it.

Here is an example of his Term 3 reading survey.

  1. Name
  2. Have you enjoyed your reading this term? (Yes/No)
    1. What have you particularly enjoyed?
    2. What have you found challenging?
  3. What was the focus of your reading this term?
  4. This term we added Core 5 to our reading programme. Do you think it is useful to your reading learning? (Yes/No/Maybe)
    1. What did you find useful about Core 5?
    2. What did you find challenging about Core 5?
  5. What do you want to learn abut in Reading in Term Four?
  6. Have you made progress in your reading learning this term? (Yes/No/Maybe)
    1. Why do you think you have made progress in your reading learning this term?
    2. Why do you think you have not made progress in your reading learning this term?
    3. How can Mr Lewsey help you next term?

Student responses to the surveys

Heath’s students are very happy to fill in the forms and are good at identifying specific things that they liked or found challenging in their learning. The students also gained confidence during the year to know that it’s ok to say if they don’t understand something. During Term 2 Heath did try getting the students to do a weekly reflection on their writing. However, the students found the frequency of this too intense and opted not to continue it in Term 3.

Following up on the surveys

Heath has follow up conversations with his students, especially those who identified that they found the learning challenging. He always thanks the children for being honest and asks them to help him to understand a little bit more about why the found reading challenging that term. Heath will also reference the responses in his teaching to explain to his students why he is making particular decisions.