Yes, the Tracker Apps Blog is back after a summer hiatus! For the start of the Fall Term, we are publishing a piece by our own Malcolm Nicolson, where he interviewed two students about their views on school, teaching and relationships with their teachers. We hope it serves as a reminder of who we are really working for as educators and we wish everyone a great school year.

By Malcolm Nicolson

If you scan the educational articles and messages across social media you see an awful lot of words about pedagogy, curriculum and intellectual debate. It is worth looking at improving teaching and learning from the perspective of a student. What makes them tick? How important is curriculum? Is any of this discussion about curriculum important? Is it all about relationships? How can teachers develop better relationships with students? What are the implications of understanding learning from a student perspective?

In this blog we talk to two students, A is aged 10 (Year 6/Grade5) and B is aged 13 (Year 8/Grade 7) about their educational experiences. Please note that neither student has experienced PYP or MYP. 

What do you enjoy most about school?

A. Sporting activities, art and seeing friends.

B. Learning new things and meeting new people.

What do you enjoy least about school?

A. There’s nothing I don’t like, but the thing I like the least is second language learning lessons.

B. Some of the teachers, behaviour management and lunch queues. 

In which lessons do you learn best? Why?

A. I learn best in any lesson because there are always friendly teachers around to help.

B. I learn best in maths, English, Geography and PE because of the amount the teachers can squeeze into one lesson and they are friendly to the students.

What makes a good teacher?

A. Kindness, humour and patience. 

B. Mainly a good relationship with the students and the ability to not be boring with lesson plans.

What type of teaching style do you prefer?

A. I enjoy practical work and videos.

B. I prefer teachers to be interactive with the students so it gets more and more people involved and leaves no one out, it usually means that they will like it more and will work harder in the lesson.

Do you have any freedom in lessons for inquiry? Do you like that?

A.  Most of the time, teachers let children work in pairs or in groups to find information.

B. It really depends on the teacher, some will ask questions and get to you as soon as possible, some will tell you to put your hand down or ignore you.

How do you think your schooling could be improved to help your learning?

A. Behaviour of other children stops me from learning so I would hope that teachers deal with it better.

B. To make it more of a friendly environment and get everyone involved and just calming everything down just a bit.

Do you think it is worth asking students for their view on teaching and learning? If you already do so, please share your findings with us. 

What jumps out at you from this short pair of interviews? Both students enjoy relationships with other students and with teachers which improves learning. Motivation through the teacher relationship is a key connection. The better the relationship the better the learning and the more they feel valued and listened to. These students enjoy active learning, but perhaps teachers are sacrificing that in order to prioritise classroom management strategies. 

The million-dollar question is, can we train a teacher to develop better relationships? If so, how?