“Student Voice” Informs Again!

In recent times I have been reminded of the powerful feedback students can provide for teachers and for me in my role as principal. One such example started a few weeks ago when I presented Year 9 2015 Interest Elective Information to all current Year 8 students.

In a nutshell, the New South Wales Board of Studies has clear expectations about what subjects can be taught and the mandated (minimum) hours for those subjects to be properly delivered. Across Years 7 to 10, our school delivers significantly more than the required number of hours for each and every subject. When a school does this they can then deliver options which are not mandated, like we do with Careers once a week in Year 10 and Sport once a week in Year 7 & 9.

A week later, I invited students to offer a comment via the Year 9 2015 Interest Elective Survey. The responses of that survey were distributed to a representative group of 10 Year 8 students (pictured below with me and Pedagogy Leader @Carl Heise) at a meeting on Wednesday of this week. They see the interest elective as an opportunity to inform them about their future employment. Also, they stated that if they have the choice to work in an area of interest they will be motivated to work harder because they will be more focused. The group informed me that we should continue to explore the idea.

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As a result of that feedback, more work will be done with teachers over the next few months with the idea that teachers will work with students about actual subjects that might will offered. With regards to Year 9, 2015 we are asking these questions:

 “Do we do more of the same?” 
– “Can we use the surplus hours any better?” 
– “What would you learn if you could learn about anything you want?”

When exploring those questions, there is real excitement about the possibilities for students in Year 9, 2015. When more ‘concrete’ information is available, we will invite Year 8 parents to offer feedback before a final decision is made about subject offerings to Year 9, 2015. However, it has been the “Student Voice” that has convinced me to keep exploring this exciting initiative.
 
Any suggestions?
 
Greg.

6 thoughts on ““Student Voice” Informs Again!

  1. Hi Greg,
    Love this initiative. I’ve worked on something similar when we invited the school community to be the “teachers” of said electives… after all Teachers may be experts on what’s required to become a teacher… but a graphic designer?
    Will watch how this develops with great interest… love your work and willingness to change things up! IMHO a great example of leadership.
    Cheers,
    Dan

  2. As I said on twitter – this is really interesting and powerful. I’m a big fan of using surveys and similar to provide students with the opportunity to voice their own thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I believe it’s integral to students’ developing a sense of autonomy and ownership in their learning and hence becoming more engaged learners.

    If we treat students as though they are intelligent and their opinions matter, they’re going to be more likely to ‘step up’ and act like responsible, motivated young adults.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Would you ‘teach’ better, if you could teach anything you want? Like students who would learn better if they could learn about anything they wanted to learn about, the same would apply to those who would lead those lessons.
    Imagine the scope for peer to peer learning.
    Imagine the scope for inquiry within inquiry.
    Imagine the scope for student choice!
    Rarely would an adult enrol in a community college course and not enjoy every minute of it. Why? Because it is something they are interested in and choose to do. Student choice lies at the very heart of the success of a program such as this. Exciting times ahead!

  4. Great share Greg. My school runs electives and we go through the review process each year about what worked and what didn’t. However, there is little formal consultation of the student voice. Thank you for the idea.

  5. Hi Greg,

    As a Father of a student at the College and an Educator I want to commend you and your team for this initiative. It makes total sense to immerse our students in Electives that inspire, engage and meet the needs of our students. The survey has already generated good conversations about learning and teaching and goals. I totally agree with giving the students a voice and being open to what that tells us. Of course we cannot jump solely to the opinions of students but their welfare, academic and pastoral, are our core work. I see good things coming from this planning, not only for Stage 5, but beyond. I think with this particular situation if the feedback is positive, the question is why wouldn’t you do it if you have support from all parts of the. College community.

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