#ReflectiveTeacher Post 14
What is feedback for learning and how well do you give it?
I dream of a classroom where each of my students can get constant, timely, personal feedback across the curriculum that moves their thinking forward. In my perfect dream classroom I would not only have the time to give engaging and critical feedback to every student, but I would be able to monitor student responses to that feedback and tailor instruction to meet the needs of all students well. Every year I incorporate procedures and try to generate structures that help me overcome obstacles and move me closer to this feedback dream. In my mind feedback for learning involves a particular feedback cycle listed below.
- A task connected to a learning goal
- Teacher analysis and individual feedback sharing strengths and next steps
- Students engage with feedback and move forward on next steps
- Student modifications to task
- Students internalized the learning goal associated with the feedback
- Opportunities to go deeper over time
Essential to this feedback loop is acknowledgement of what students are doing well. Often my students can’t identify the parts of a task they are successful at. I believe feedback that is going to push learning forward begins by naming for students their strengths. As a teacher it is important to think about how students can move from what is working well to what they need to do next. Feedback encourages students and makes seemingly daunting tasks feel doable in small steps. Another component to this loop is how it incorporates students’ goals for their own learning. Student voice is essential to the feedback loop as well. Students need to be able to give feedback to a teacher. Sometimes figuring out what students need is as simple as asking them.
This school year I have several mechanisms for sustaining ongoing feedback for students. Individual conferencing during readers and writers workshop helps me give relevant and timely feedback to students. My notes during these quick conversations often translate into mini lessons during read alouds and writing demos. Technology like the Edmodo programs provides another space for quick individual feedback through the quizzing, polls, and lesson grades students and parents can access online.
My favorite form of feedback is old school letter writing. Student homework journals provide a place for me to write to each student a longer more personal letter every week sharing their strengths and writing very personalized next steps. This is my favorite place for feedback. These homework journals feel more like authentic coaching conversations guided by student work. Often students will engage with me in these journals. I love when students spontaneously leave little notes for me in the journals giving me more information about what is working and what is not. These journals also serve as a place to track over time the goals we set and the steps we have taken to meet these goals.
Finally, every week students write a letter to me. They are prompted to tell me something they enjoyed, something they may be struggling to understand, to ask me any kind of question regarding processes or content, and to give suggestions about things that they need. These letters inform my practice, and demonstrate to students my willingness to listen to them. After all a really power feedback loop should go both ways. Truthfully with all of this there is still critical feedback that may go unsaid.