It is fairly common for a gap to exist between intent and impact when it comes to making students feel welcomed and valued in a classroom. Teachers care for their students, want them to learn, and try to foster a sense of belonging, but the students may fail to pick up on these signals and end up feeling isolated or disengaged. The best way to reduce the gap between teacher practice and student perception is to ask students about their experiences and feelings in the classroom, and then adjust instruction to improve specific aspects of the classroom environment.
Student feedback can take many forms:
- Informal conversations before/after class
- Co-generative dialogues (see page on Reality Pedagogy)
- Adding Belonging Questions to Exit Tickets or other Assessments
- Recurring Class Surveys
These questions can be short and simple. For example, asking students the following questions can offer some valuable feedback:
- Do you feel like an important member of the classroom?
- Does your teacher notice when you are struggling with something?
- Do you feel respected in this classroom?
- What’s something your teacher should know to better understand you?
- What’s something your teacher can do better tomorrow?
By asking, and acting upon this information (it helps to share any adjustments explicitly with students), teachers can not only improve their instruction, but students also recognize their voice is part of the classroom improvement process.