There have been a plethora of thought-provoking and inspiring articles written over the past few months, regarding all aspects of education, since schools were forced to change in nature from March 2020. Of course, at the centre of everything we do as practitioners should be the students. Accordingly, we should aim to capture these unprecedented times from the students’ perspectives.
In particular, we should seek the answer to three questions:
- What do students like about learning in lockdown?
- What do students not like about learning in lockdown?
- What are students missing most about school?
Answering these questions will provide us with an inestimable source to help us build a better, bolder and more fulfilling way of schooling that has student voice at its core. After all, to ensure that the changes this forced experiment may bring have a lasting legacy and real benefit, they need to begin and end with the students in our classroom, virtual or not!
Through the collection and analysis of student voice, we are able to get a sense of how students are adapting to learning during lockdown. It allows students to raise issues, start conversations, and express their opinions. In addition, students gain confidence, increase ownership of their learning and feel valued as they are shown that their opinions matter. However, we must also note the obstacles that the collection of student voices may bring: students may lack the motivation to get involved; the data may contradict itself; the data collected is a snapshot of one point in time from one cohort; and lastly, students may find it difficult to feel comfortable sharing feedback with teachers. Nonetheless, the benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks – if the feedback is acted upon by schools, students can see the impact that they can have, not only on their school culture, but also on their own futures, thus resulting in increased student agency through voice and choice.
We captured the student voice through two methods; the first through a student questionnaire delivered to all students, and secondly, through students writing a short paragraph titled ‘A typical school day during lockdown’.
So, based solely on student feedback, when schools reopen – what should we lose? What should we keep? And, what are students missing most about school? Ultimately, what is the legacy that the students would like to see?