Student Voice Feedback Tips and Suggestions

SoundOut workshop participants in São Paulo, Brasil.
SoundOut workshop participants in São Paulo, Brasil.


When students have opportunities to share feedback with teachers, school leaders and other adults in education, its important they learn by following a safe, established framework.  Safe and supportive environments are a key to Meaningful Student Involvement; student voice feedback is a way to help ensure those environments exist.


SoundOut has developed a process and tips to help students and adults break through their traditional interactions and move towards Student/Adult Partnerships. Following is one framework that we have used in schools. This can also be used by adults to provide students with feedback, as well as among students and among adults. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. Use the following model to provide practice giving and receiving feedback: I feel (feeling) when you (behavior) because (impact on you).
  • Instead of: “You suck teacher! Why did you suck so much yesterday? We never think you’re good!”
  • Try: “I felt irritated when you didn’t show up at class unprepared. Yesterday I was ready to work on our project, but we couldn’t because you had to postpone our activity for the day because you were late.”


Tip 1: Focus on behaviors and actions, not personality.

  • Instead of: “You’re a totally domineering loudmouth!”
  • Try: “I felt frustrated in yesterday’s class when you interrupted several students to make your own points because I didn’t get to hear what they had to say.”


Tip 2: Be specific and concrete, avoiding vagueness and generalizations.

  • Instead of: “You are always late for things.”
  • Try: “I was upset when you came late to the class because I had to do your work as well as my own.”

TIP: If you can’t come up with a concrete example, think again about the feedback you are trying to give. Is it accurate, or just your perception?


Tip 3: Time your feedback well.

  • Don’t give feedback so long after the actual incident that heshe has trouble even remembering.
  • Don’t give feedback so soon after the incident that the person isn’t really ready to hear it.
  • Don’t give feedback when the person isn’t ready to listen. For example, he/she is on the way out and doesn’t have time, is with a group of people, or is in a bad mood.
  • Do pick a good time and place so that you both can be focused and capable of listening.


Tip 4: Do no harm.

  • Don’t just go off on someone so that you feel better. Check your attitude and your motivations for giving feedback before you speak. Ask yourself why you want to give this person feedback.
  • Do sincerely try to give people information that is going to help them. Make sure that the behaviors you’re telling someone about are ones that they can reasonably expect to change.


Tip 5: Deal with one item of information at a time.

  • Don’t say, “I feel angry when you don’t take out the trash or do the dishes or pick up your things or vacuum the floor because this place is a mess.”
  • Do pick one thing to focus on for now.


Tip 6: Be clear and simple…

  • Don’t confuse the receiver with lots of big words or go into a long drawn-out speech
  • Do get straight to the point.


When you use these tips and suggestions on feedback in student voice activities, you can discover the depth and breadth of what students and adults do when they partner together to improve schools. Without good feedback, student voice can never become as powerful, meaningful or purpose-filled as it could and should be for every student, all of the time.


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