A recent article in The Conversation highlights the rise of student perception surveys in schools across Australia, the UK and the USA, claiming that while feedback is important, it becomes ineffective without the ability for teachers to act on the feedback they receive.
At Pivot, feedback is central to everything we do. Our Student Perception Survey on Teaching Effectiveness has been used successfully in over 100,000 classrooms across Australia and allows students from Foundation to Year 12 to provide teachers with feedback on observable teaching practices. We agree with the authors of this article from The Conversation, that it is “useless” to gather student feedback and not act upon it, the findings are unsurprising given the lack of support that teachers appear to have received. This is the challenge that we address. At Pivot, our survey tools provide schools with the capacity to do so much more than simply gather feedback. We provide teachers and school leaders with customised and targeted recommendations, resources and strategies to improve their practice in alignment with the needs of their students. In this way, we support teachers to understand and act on student feedback in meaningful ways.
Providing confidence in the feedback process
To provide confidence in the feedback process, we ensure that student responses to our Student Perception Survey are anonymous and classroom results are confidential to the teacher. In this way students are encouraged to be honest about the feedback they provide and teachers feel safe receiving this feedback because they know it isn’t being scrutinised by leadership teams as a form of performance management. When students and teachers feel safe to give and receive feedback in the classroom, the feedback process can be engaged within a robust and rigorous way.
Understanding and unpacking feedback
As educators, we know that receiving feedback is important in developing our practice. However, we also recognise that taking the time to really understand and unpack the feedback we receive is the only way we can begin to affect change in our classrooms. At Pivot, we provide schools with the opportunity to join us for a coaching call where we sit down with teachers and school leaders to unpack their data and make meaning from their students’ feedback. These sessions provide time and space to explore data, reflect on what students are saying and plan for the next steps.
After the survey, we had an online coaching call with Pivot’s Education Manager to go through our results. We learnt a lot during this call and found it a useful opportunity to reflect on the data and analyse it critically. Following our coaching call, we worked with year level teams to further unpack the data, analyse trends and develop actions to support our student’s learning and engagement.
Year 5 Teacher, Toorak Primary School, Melbourne
All too often when we speak with schools about their students’ feedback, we find that they are expecting to have to make big changes in response to what students are saying. However, more often than not, taking action from student feedback is about taking small steps and making small changes.
To support teachers with taking action through small steps, we provide a comprehensive bank of evidence-based resources which include strategies and mastery approaches to improving practice, including a section on ‘What three things can I apply to my classroom tomorrow?’. More than any other support we provide, it is these simple strategies that teachers take away to use in their classrooms as a way to respond to student feedback in a timely and effective manner.
Establishing a culture of feedback
At Pivot, our tools are most effective when used as part of a whole-school approach allowing feedback to become an everyday part of school life. We’ve worked in partnership with several schools who have built robust cultures of feedback by consistently closing the feedback loop after each survey has been completed and actively talking to students about their feedback, including asking questions about why they have responded to the survey in the ways that they have. To support teachers with these conversations we provide individualised classroom worksheets that teachers can share with their classes and use to engage students in conversations about the next steps needed to effect change in the learning environment.
Over time, we’ve seen that when student feedback is prioritised, valued and treated as more than a tokenistic measure, it can transform school culture and classroom practice.
Many changes have been made to our teaching and learning practices as a result of the Student Perception Survey on Teaching Effectiveness. It is now common practice for us to speak with students and gain feedback from them with regard to their experiences in the classroom, whereas historically this was not the case, and these surveys have also allowed us to develop communities of practice within our staff in order to make strategic and effective changes to our curriculum and pedagogy.
Assistant Principal, Upper Yarra Secondary College
Feedback is precious, but it can also be overwhelming and complicated which is why we recognise the need to support all students in feeling that their voices really are heard and support teachers in acting on the feedback they receive.
With our evidence-based surveys, our targeted insights, our comprehensive wrap-around resources and our knowledgeable team of education specialists, the Pivot platform not only supports students, teachers and leaders in giving and receiving feedback but allows schools to take meaningful action for positive classroom change.