student voice and agency

R.E.S.P.E.C.T., find out what it means to me!

Miles, can you tell us a little about your class? 

I co-teach in a class of 55 students, a mixed group of Grade 1 and 2. We have been using Pivot for a number of years now but this was the first time I had done so with a lower primary class. 

What surprised you about your Pivot results? 

When I received the results of my student perception survey, I was surprised by a relatively lower result for the question around ‘treating students with respect’. I wracked my memory for any instances of when I had been disrespectful to my students, yet couldn’t remember any event which I would deem ‘lacking respect’. I knew that the next step for me was to unpack the questions – and my results – with the class to hone in on their understanding of and perception of the concept ‘respect’. 

What did you uncover when you broached ‘respect’? 

We worked through some questions individually over the course of a few days, and when we got to ‘respect’ I found that the students were insightful and able to clearly articulate how they thought I had been disrespectful. Some students nominated that I didn’t always talk to them or greet them in the morning; some students pointed out to me that they didn’t like the way I did things with certain students. It was a real eye-opener for me into their world. Coincidentally as I was leading this conversation from the front of the classroom to take notes on the whiteboard, a student came up to me and began to talk to me – without asking to speak to me or waiting for me to stop speaking with the students on the mat. I put my hand up, which is our class signal to stop talking, and he did. 

What happened next? 

My perspective was that I had been respectful to the larger group of students sitting on the floor, by pausing the talking student to wait for a better moment to speak with him. It occurred to me that I could ask – in this very ‘teachable moment’ – how they had interpreted the situation. As far as they were concerned, they thought that I had been ‘totally disrespectful’ to the student by ignoring him or consider his feelings. But when I explained why I had done what I did, the majority of students could also see my interpretation of the situation. 

In summary, how did Pivot impact student voice and agency in your classroom? 

Pivot opened up a conversation that helped to explicitly define ‘respect’, and to talk about what respect looks like in our classroom. My definition of respect was different to my students, but Pivot allowed us to bring us more into line so together we can be more ‘respectful’ of each other.