The feedback from students is very powerful and is very effective to improving the effectiveness of our common learning spaces. On average a each month, I ask each student in person and anonymously via Google Forms the same three questions:
- What should we keep doing in this class?
- What should we stop doing in this class?
- What should we start doing in this class?
When teachers are prepared to learn from students, teachers come to realise just how important it is that they see themselves as life-long learners. As a result, teachers should then be more at ease focusing on learning over achievement, the journey over the destination and learning for school AND beyond. We also tend to be more realistic in our expectations of students. We were young once, we were teenagers, we didn't always care about every single lesson did we? Once teachers think long-term over the need for every lesson to be a blockbuster, we tend to relax and in my opinion tend to be better facilitators and more effective in our classrooms than we ever could be as the very best teachers.
Students also teach us whether we like it or not, that we do not know everything and what should be reassuring to us, is that that they don't expect us to. Instead many old-school teachers still believe that the course content/knowledge is still their's to disseminate as they see fit. As a student said to me recently and rather eloquently, "these teachers are in the classroom for in reality, only one person!" Teachers are taught in this digital age now more than ever before, that their greatest role in the classroom is to help students become critical analysts and thinkers about the content now fully accessible to anyone. Teachers are more important than ever as facilitators, coaches, filters of knowledge. We just have to accept this transformation and accept and embrace it.
Lastly, the students teach us that they want to see us as part of their team. They want teachers to work 1:1 with them, to allow them to ask the really big, at times almost unanswerable questions, they want the teacher walking, moving within the student body. Teachers who transmit from the front and refuse to let the personality out are the ones in my experiences who often face the most disengaged and disaffected students. When teachers let free a little of the person they are and are prepared to work with their students, there is no limit to to what can be collectively achieved. We need to learn from how students collaborate with one another and seek to do likewise with not only the same students but also our fellow teachers locally and globally. Teachers for the most part still tend to think (certainly in High Schools) in subject silos and invariably local over global. If we want our students to be global learners and leaders, it is essential for teachers to be authentic role models and at the very least, lead for some of the way.
In closing, my best professional learning currently comes from listening and hearing from the students. The learnings from students can be immensely beneficial in terms of inquiries into matters of content misunderstandings, student absences and future lesson content and delivery. Ask yourself, how often do I often listen to my students? How often do I act on their feedback? The reality may just surprise you. With a little change in listening and actioning, so too might just the results!