When students are given a stage to stand on and the belief that their voices, and therefore their education, matter, not only are they more successful, but their teachers become better educators and their leaders create a culture of collaboration. Encouraging a culture of student agency creates a learning environment that prioritises student success and a stronger and more accepting school community.
How to identify an effective educator
An effective teacher or school leader is not necessarily the one with the most detailed lesson plan, or the one with the most years of experience. An effective educator is one that knows and understands that working in tandem with students, not only providing but receiving feedback, produces the best results in the classroom.
Students are our partners in learning
Students can, and should, be partners in their learning experience. Together, students and teachers can create and sustain a learning environment that is inclusive and effective. Research indicates that there is a correlation between students evaluating their teachers and increased academic productivity. By collecting feedback, schools are giving students a voice when it comes to their education, driving student independence, collaboration and agency.
The need for student agency and voice
But what exactly is student agency? When students are given a voice and a platform to express their thoughts and concerns, they are acting as agents of their own learning. Every student should have the chance to make decisions, along with their teachers, that will directly influence the quality of their learning. Who better to know what works and what doesn’t than the person doing the actual learning? For students, providing feedback gives them a voice and teaches them the skills they need for using it. Student leadership opportunities, for example, instill an increased sense of responsibility for others, and for themselves, while also creating a space that fosters shared learning experiences.
Create student agency in your classroom
All students have the potential to take ownership, or agency, of their learning. By fostering student agency, students are given the tools to become independent and self-regulating learners, which in turn allows teachers, and school leaders, to become more efficient in the classroom. Building student agency not only empowers students, allowing their voices to be heard, but also opens the doors for students to direct and take responsibility for their learning. By taking responsibility and participating in the decisions that affect their learning experience students are helping schools build a stronger sense of community and a school culture that is accepting of students, teachers and leaders working together.
Leaders must act, not just listen
However, giving students the agency, the voice and the ownership and not acting on it serves little purpose and reaps none of the benefits. School leaders should collect student feedback, but most importantly they need to use it in order to improve the school culture. When truly considering the feedback received from students, leaders are teaching them to not only use their voices, but to listen when someone else uses theirs. Leading by example and showing students how to receive feedback is an invaluable lesson they will carry throughout their academic and professional journeys.
Redefine your school culture
By modeling giving and receiving feedback, school leaders can create a culture that encourages students, staff and families to take an active role in the school’s learning environment. Students should be given a voice, and should use that voice to work with their teachers in the classroom to achieve the best results for everyone.
How Pivot can support you
Pivot’s Student Perception Survey on Teaching Effectiveness is a great way to encourage student voice and agency within your school. The Student Perception Survey helps school leaders gather feedback in a constructive way across your school, that encourages positive and meaningful growth within individual classrooms. Receive easy-to-understand reports, highlighting top performing practices and areas for growth in alignment with the AITSL standards. Speak to us today to learn more.