“Learners need endless feedback more than they need endless teaching.”
~ Grant Wiggins
Less Teaching, More Feedback?
Teachers spend a large amount of their time designing engaging, relevant lessons for students. Many discuss and share ideas with colleagues, constantly picking their brains to thread tech tools, and exciting activities to “hook” their students. Some teachers work on questioning techniques, carefully scaffolding questions to guide learning and help learners think critically and creatively. Teachers work hard on their lessons. When a teacher receives word of an observation, most excitedly get ready for it. They know that a great lesson should have great feedback. Something that can assist them to reach their full potential. But, for me, there are so many questions that center around feedback.
Years ago, I had a student who did not participate in Pre-K or Kindergarten. She came to my first grade classroom, not knowing how to write her name. I remember working with her every chance I got. Every day, we met to read. I provided her with the skills, strategies, and timely, meaningful feedback to help her progress. I provided her with feedback, that was clear and that focused around a specific goal. This information that I provided on a daily basis, helped her progress towards her final goal of reading fluently. Each month I monitored her progress. By the end of the school year, my darling learner was reading on a Fountas and Pinnell level K (second grade). I was amazed at how much she accomplished.
As teachers, we know the value of constant communication and conferencing. We know the power of great feedback and input. We see it on a daily basis with our learners. By providing learners with constant feedback, we can greatly enhance their learning and improve their achievement.We help them to be more aware of how they learn and help them to see their progress and growth, in a non-threatening way. I often wonder what would happen if teachers were given feedback on a monthly basis? Could this constant feedback happen in our schools, for our teachers? Think of how powerful that could be.
At the end of the school year, teachers are lined up to visit with their administrator to discuss their year, their growth. I remember rushing to our secretary’s desk to set up my appointment. I was always so eager to discuss my plans for the following year, always curious as to the feedback I was going to receive. Unfortunately, and to my disappointment, I did not receive much feedback. “None at this time” was written on 13 of my 15 end of the year evaluations. No recommendations or feedback…nothing. The feedback that I did receive, simply urged me to complete my Masters of Education degree, which I did. No feedback, how am I to grow as an educator, if nothing is mentioned? As a result, I decided to reflect even deeper and refine my lessons anyway. I can provide my own feedback. I can still grow as a teacher without an administrator’s feedback, right?
Many people are motivated or inspired by well-delivered feedback. They will also perform better because of it. But I can’t help but wonder, if feedback is absolutely critical for teachers to grow, then why isn’t it done in a more informal, frequent manner?
This quote speaks to me on many levels. If teachers did this “feedback loop”, would it be important to have someone else give feedback? Why?
Yes, I think it would be important. It’s just as important as reflecting and refining a lesson. I think receiving feedback (positive or constructive) is greatly beneficial in providing growth. Without feedback of any kind, we would not learn at all, period. We would end up doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Their feedback can provide greater insight into areas of opportunity. This information is the only way to ensure a behavior will change, and it can help individuals focus on some important issues. It is something we need to invite into our personal and professional development, if we want to reach our potential and make our greatest contribution. Because feedback serves so many purposes, it is important to consider how it is provided, when it is offered, how it is focused or targeted, and what is considered in the feedback.
So, that being said, how should feedback be given to ensure the individual does not feel threatened? Can feedback be given on a monthly basis in a school setting? How? How can we be more open to receiving it? More to come on this…