Reflecting on student experiences during remote learning

Toorak Primary School, located in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, offers the Victorian Curriculum to around 540 students from Foundation Years to Year Six and has used Pivot’s Student Perception Survey on Teaching Effectiveness since 2019. With remote learning dominating much of the last eighteen months, we spoke with staff at Toorak Primary School about their decision to use Pivot’s Distance Learning Survey with students from Years 3-6 and how this tool has helped them to better understand and improve student experiences during remote learning. 

Why has it been important for you to get feedback from your students during remote learning?

Creating the space for authentic student voice and agency in the programs we run at Toorak Primary School is extremely important. We want to ensure that we are engaging students in their learning, building their connections within the school community and supporting their wellbeing. We believe these things are even more crucial during the time of remote learning and so we decided to use the Distance Learning Survey to understand what was working well and how students were feeling during remote learning. We also wanted to identify where we could make improvements that would suit our community in these challenging times. 

The data we received from Pivot through the Distance Learning Survey really helped us to gain an insight into student’s perceptions across the areas of student engagement, belonging and wellbeing. The results from the survey helped us to have conversations around what is working well and what we can improve on. 

How did teachers work with students to support them in completing the Distance Learning Survey?

Before students completed the Distance Learning Survey, all staff were given a briefing about the survey and how it would run. When the survey opened, each Generalist teacher ran a live online class with their students where they introduced the survey and went through what the questions and what they looked like in the context of the online classroom. Students were then given time to complete the survey and stayed live with their teacher to ask any clarifying questions. 

We also ran the survey with our Specialist teachers, again in a live online lesson where the Specialist teacher could illustrate what each question looked like in their online environment. 

What did you learn from the Distance Learning Survey about student experiences during remote learning?

It was really pleasing to see the positive results of students’ experiences during remote learning and this has been a huge celebration for the school.

After the survey, we had an online coaching call with Pivot’s Education Manager to go through our results and trends. We learnt a lot during this call and found it a useful opportunity to reflect on the data and analyze it critically. It was particularly interesting to have a conversation around an apparent disconnect between lower responses for student engagement and attention versus higher responses to questions around students finding 

their learning interesting. We also began to understand trends between the different year levels with their Generalist and Specialist teachers. This opened conversations about how different teams are delivering their programs, what is working well and how best practices can be shared across school. 

What changes will you make across the school based on student feedback from the Distance Learning Survey? 

Following our coaching call with Pivot’s Education Manager, we worked with year level teams to further unpack the data, analyze trends and develop actions to support our student’s learning and engagement during remote learning. 

Teachers will engage students in further feedback conversations using the Classroom Results and Feedback Worksheet, with the aim of incorporating strategies suggested by the students into our remote learning practices. Additionally, staff have been encouraged to look at the Pivot resources available for each of the Distance Learning Questions to better understand how we can continue making improvements to our practice during remote learning. After we have implemented these strategies we will continue to check-in with students by using Pivot’s Pulse Check survey on a regular basis, as we move into the final part of the school year and hopefully return to on-campus learning. 

Learn more about Pivot’s Student Perception Survey on Teaching Effectiveness.