In June, a survey and report conducted by the Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC) found that students wanted more regular check ins from teachers to support their wellbeing.
The report, titled: ‘Learning and remote learning’, also revealed that students were also eager to give regular feedback to teachers about their learning and have the opportunity to give input on the direction of future classes.
These themes of supporting positive mental health and wellbeing at school and increasing student engagement also featured prominently at the 2020 VicSRC Congress.
To answer this call, the VicSRC teamed up with ed-tech company Verso Learning to create a free student check-in tool that enables teachers to regularly check-in with students either in class or when working remotely.
To reduce the workload for teachers the customisable tool has been aligned to over 5,000 Victorian F-10 curriculum questions covering most subject areas.
In under 30 seconds teachers can send students a Verso check-in to gather feedback on their learning progress, where they need help, what they would like to do more of next lesson and how they are feeling about their learning.
Teachers can access the feedback via a simple and colourful dashboard that enables them to quickly gauge individual students' learning and emotional needs and identify those who need extra support and attention.
‘Positive feedback from principals’
CEO of Verso Learning Colin Wood said that there are multiple benefits of the check-in tool for school leaders, but the feedback he’s received from principals has focused on four key areas – student focus; consistency of approach; real-time feedback; and easy implementation and support.
“Teachers love the fact that the tool is focused on the student not the teacher, we ask students to provide feedback about their learning and understanding, to think about their learning and identify where to next,” Wood told The Educator.
“We aren’t asking the students to provide feedback on the teacher but to help the teacher identify what support that student needs to move their learning forward”.
Wood said having a simple and consistent approach to collecting feedback that can be quickly and easily tailored to each classroom means all teachers in a school can use it to collect feedback from students on their learning progress and emotional state.
“And because the question format is the same and the output of the data for teachers is identical, it supports conversations at a teaching cohort or PLC level to help identify action at an individual or collective level,” he said.
The check-in tool also provides teachers with immediate feedback on learning progress of every student in their class and helps identify individual student learning need.
“This means that a teacher can make immediate changes to their future lesson plans or make those important interventions directly with students where needed,” Wood said.
“This has been one of the strongest areas of feedback for teachers”.
Wood said that another important piece of feedback from school leaders is that they like the fact the check-in tool is so easy to set-up and use for their teachers and doesn't require any training or on-boarding.
“Teachers can get started by browsing the curriculum aligned check-ins to find something relevant to what they are currently teaching and then launch it with a few clicks”.
Powerful benefits for student wellbeing
Executive Officer of VicSRC Nina Laitala said VicSRC the check-in tool enables students to have more opportunities to influence the way they are taught in class to be more effective for their learning styles.
“This is critical to how young people feel about their school experience,” Laitala told The Educator.
“The Verso Check-in app links teaching and learning with wellbeing, leading to teaching that is more holistic and focuses on personalised learning based on the needs of individual students”.
Laitala said students will have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experiences of learning, as well as suggestions for improvements on how they learn best, using language that is relevant for them because it’s been designed by their peers.
“VicSRC expects that students will feel more empowered through this check-in and as a result, more engaged in learning and more supported in class, which will have a positive impact on wellbeing”.