Top Tip: Harnessing student voice to help inform your CPD

Posted by Charlotte Curl on 27 August, 2012

Harnessing student voice to help inform your CPD

Wonderful stories are starting to emerge from the IRIS Connect community on other ways teachers and schools are using the flexibility of the IRIS Connect system beyond its role in providing effective personal or peer observations. A particular favourite emerging is to support Student Voice or Student Involvement.

Each and every day 30 children’s faces stare in anticipation, waiting to learn something new and enjoy their lessons. Teachers have often so much to do in a lesson, so many pupils to focus upon, and so many ideas and concepts to juggle that to be aware of all the conversations that take place on the periphery of their view is very difficult. Often it's hard to understand how we really teach and the impact we have; it's hard to sit down with the children and actually watch how we engage with them. Children are our biggest critics; they provide immediate responses as to whether they believe our lessons are good, exciting or even worth attending. By actually listening to their voices and understanding what they have to say can really inform our professional development.

Asher Jacobsberg from is a strong advocate for student voice; he recently made the pertinent point that your students observe more lessons in a week than your average Head of Department does in a term. They may experience a wider variety of styles and practice than any single member of staff in your school. Collecting their comparisons of what works for them and what doesn’t is an opportunity not to be missed.

Imagine just listening to a group of your students discussing a particular experiment or debating about a topical news subject without changing the dynamic of the conversation with your added presence. This is where you can really get to grips with and understand knowledge transfer, engagement and what works with whom.

As teachers we want to feel empowered and to play an active role in our own development. We see that this is key to our effectiveness of teachers. Through handing the ‘perspective reins’ over to our pupils from time to time we can see our effectiveness through their eyes and adjust our own behaviour accordingly. We empower the pupils to become a part of our own learning process as well as their own. By including pupils in this process engages them in their own learning on a deeper level, feel more involved and ultimately impacts upon their attainment. For further reading and understanding on student voice and CPD read our latest interview with Asher Jacobsberg from a passionate and strong advocate of student voice.

This week try the following:

1. Book out the IRIS Connect camera for a lesson that will involve student discussion or collaborative practices. Place the microphone in the centre of the table, focus the camera on one group at a time and then interchange between the different groups.

Later you can truly reflect on how well your students engaged with one another, how well they understood the concepts and identify areas for further support. You could even allow them to reflect on their own discussions and make annotations against their part of the video. Allow them to see themselves in action.

2. Start to discuss and identify students to take part in lesson observations. This will be an excellent opportunity to not only teach pupils about objectivity, constructive feedback and empathy but to truly understand student perspective. This may take a little planning but an opportunity that is just as powerful as watching another teacher teach. For further information on how to do this effectively you can contact Asher Jacobsberg at

Topics: Classroom Strategies


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