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High School students initiate teacher feedback

Our High School Students Council played a central role in creating the upcoming teacher feedback forms in close collaboration with the school’s management. How did that come about?

“We wanted to give teachers feedback,” Nour says. “Some teachers would sometimes ask for feedback on the unit or something, and we were always talking about it, that this should be something that we as students should have the opportunity to do, so I thought it would be nice to involve the student council. We had the 9th and 10th graders work on a draft form that we presented to [High School Principal] Mr. McIlroy. This was around November. We were hoping it would be implemented [immediately] but unfortunately it wasn’t. He did tell us that we could ask a couple of teachers and if a few of them liked it we could work on it. And then we received an email that a group of teachers will be making feedback forms for teachers, so we were invited.”

“There were teachers from every part of the school,” Ebba says, “to have a full range of representatives. To have some sort of student involvement, Nour and I were there. Nour is vice president and I am president of the student council.” “Some of the teachers were worried that the feedback they got would affect them in their work,” Ebba adds. “Like it would be taken into consideration in how good they are in their job and put them in a weird situation.” “We didn’t want to criticize them," Nour is quick to explain, "but rather have them improve and benefit from the responses.”

“They chose a lot of our questions and rephrased them and they were all added to the form that is piloted now,” Nour explains. “They also took some other examples from different schools which have the same system,” Ebba adds, “to find the best way to word the questions we had already come up with and to see if we were missing some other question. It was good that the student council was not the only people working on it,” Ebba continues, “because once we got the teachers’ opinion on it and got to hear their side of the story, we understood their perspective. We don’t have any open questions in the survey at the moment, and some of my classmates think maybe we should have that. But the teachers said that in previous surveys with open questions, some people tend to write … well, not very pleasant things. We can avoid that by giving option answer questions. So, it’s this balance between giving the students a voice but also thinking about the teachers. Because there is no point in saying ‘You’re bad’, but not saying anything constructive.”

So how did it feel?
“It felt important,” Ebba finds. “We were being included in something that was actually going to really change how we behave at school and the ways in which the school functions, so that was exciting.” “Three teachers are piloting it right now,” Nour adds. “They will get feedback and then we’ll have another meeting, see the responses and see how to improve the form for next year.”

"We're really looking forward trialing this feedback tool over the course of the school year," Primary School Deputy Principal Moira Kristensen adds. "There will be plenty of opportunity for teachers to help make this a tool useful for them. With the campus closure, the process slowed down a bit, but we w'll pick it up again in the fall."