Using pupil voice

At the start of the year I changed my usual practice and did something completely different with each class in their first lesson. As a school we had launched a whole new pastoral system including a new behaviour policy, and consequently had spent a good deal of time letting pupils know exactly what our expectations of them were.

ActivExpression – a future blog post.

In my first lesson rather than spending too much time going over my expectations of the pupils, I put a question up on the interactive whiteboard and gave pupils two minutes to discuss it in pairs. The question was: “What do you expect of me?” Once the two minutes were up I used the ActivExpression learner response devices to collect in the responses and then displayed them on the interactive whiteboard so we could discuss them as a class. It was then very easy to steer the conversation round to what I required from the pupils in order to meet their expectations.

The first class I did this with was with my top set year 7. I was really impressed with the maturity of the responses given – lots of pupils wanting me to really push them and challenge them. Some of the responses gave little insights into the small insecurities the pupils had in moving up into secondary school – comments such as “don’t get angry if we get something wrong”. It has taken a few weeks to completely address that fear so the pupils have understood that it is okay to be wrong , it is okay to make mistakes; and that it is actually part of the process of learning.


Although doing this did lead really well into a discussion about what I required from the pupils in order to be able to meet their expectations, that wasn’t the reason for doing this. At the end of this half term I want to return back to this with the pupils and get them to assess how well I have met their expectations. I planning on doing that by summarising their comments into no more than ten statements, and then using likert scales (1-5) on the ActivExpressions in order to collect the results.

I’ll post an update at half term to let you know how I got on!
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3 Responses to “Using pupil voice”

  1. Paula says:

    I tried this too this year with a y5 class. We took turns sharing our expectations of each other and I think it was a more effective start-of-year session than a typical “class rules” talk. Mostly their expectations were appropriate (and they understand why I can’t give them Friday afternoons off!). I hadn’t been planning on revisiting and re-evaluating but following your post, I think that might be a good idea – both for me and for them also to assess their own success in meeting my expectations.

  2. Michael says:

    And what will you do when they tell you you’re not being enough fun?

    • As if that would be the case 😉

      In all seriousness though, if pupil’s opinions are that they aren’t enjoying lessons enough we’ll discuss what they are expecting. If their expectations are reasonable, and fit in with providing a top quality education, then I shall consider what tweaks I can make to my teaching to accommodate them. If, on the other hand, their expectations of fun are more along the lines of watching videos and having a party, then I shall return to the other expectations they had: “push us to achieve the best we can” etc.

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