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August 2013
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What Students Want and What They Need: Four Strategies for a Successful Year

August 31, 2013   

I have hosted student panels for the last 3 years during teacher professional development workshops where we asked students about how they would change school to make it a more motivating place where they want to be and to learn. The list all 3 years was nearly identical.  Not surprising, as I have also asked parent groups and teacher groups about their most powerful learning experiences and the list contained the same elements.  What is surprising is that what students want is often the same as the strategies that will help bring them the most growth.

So – to help you get your year off to a great start – here are 4 things you can do to make this school year engaging for your students and successful in terms of student growth.

  1. Develop a personal relationship with every one of your students.  Not only was this the number one item on student wish lists, but in John Hattie’s research,  this will lead to more student growth than teaching study skills, reading recovery, or homework.
  2. Provide students with plenty of effective feedback.  Again, not only is this what students want –Hattie’s research indicates formative assessment and feedback are two of the most effective things you can do to promote student growth.
  3. Challenge your students.  Ranked in Hattie’s research as the 34th most effective strategy for growth, students on our panels also expressed a need to be challenged, to do relevant work, and to be able to set goals to get there.
  4.   Let them create.  Students want to learn by doing, to have an opportunity to make things, and share them with an authentic audience.  And –you guessed it.  Hattie’s research revealed that, creativity programs ranked 17 in their effect on learning.

I wish you all an exciting, inspiring, and successful school year!