Feedback Tug Of War
I have been busy working with a group of teacher leaders on feedback in their classrooms. It strikes me that our constant desire to empower our learners through helpful, concise and clear feedback can often feel like a tug of war! I will explain. Educators face a myriad of competing pressures in class and a wide range of push and pull factors across a day. Yes, sometimes we feel as if we caught up in a gigantic struggle as our learners pull against us. By getting learner feedback right, we can have a substantial impact on engagement and learning in the classroom. Research tells us that the most effective form of feedback is verbal. But what kind of phrases are we using? What expectations do we send about perseverance and effort? Are we focusing on the end result or the teachable point that will help our learners who are experiencing struggle? And more importantly, is the language we are using congruent with Growth Mindset?
In school, we should be encouraging our teachers to get together, share ideas and approaches they are using for giving feedback. Is there a school policy? Is feedback a prominent part of teacher observations? Do we look at each other’s written feedback?
To win the tug of war, we need to focus on quality feedback that is specific to the task at hand. Show the learner what they can do to improve their work to make it even better. Model what a good effort looks like. By doing so, we can learn to stop pulling against each other and create a learning culture that is win-win.