Once upon a time, a long, long time ago I was a teacher.
I loved every minute of it. Most of the time, I think I was a pretty good teacher.
I used data.
I set goals for my students.
I planned instruction to ensure that my students would meet or exceed that goal.
And, I gave feedback – but that’s where my “good” may have slipped back to “mediocre”.
You see, as a kindergarten teacher, my main goal was to help all students leave at the end of the year as readers. I set up robust systems of collecting data and giving feedback. I came to find out that my feedback was meaningless. I am embarrassed to say, my feedback often sounded like this:
Hmmm, I don’t even think those statements qualify as feedback. They sound more like compliments or validations. Don’t get me wrong – compliments and validations of a job well done are needed. But, so is feedback. And …
Whether you are giving feedback to your staff or your staff is giving feedback to their students, here are a few points to consider:
The receiver of the feedback must be given information that will help them to get where they are going. In other words, it needs to be growth-producing. The feedback must tell the receiver where they need to go next. So for me, my “nice job” might sound something like this:
You used the picture clues to help you understand what you are reading (VALIDATION). Next time, you need to be sure what you read makes sense (WHERE THE STUDENT NEEDS TO GO NEXT).
The receiver of the feedback must be given tools to help them get where they need to go. In other words, you have to help the receiver access tools.
You used the picture clues to help you understand what you are reading (VALIDATION). Next time, you need to be sure what you read makes sense (WHERE THE STUDENT NEEDS TO GO NEXT). Remember that it’s okay to go back and re-read a sentence that didn’t sound right the first time through. That’s what good readers do (TOOL PROVIDED).
The receiver of the feedback must be given time to set a goal.
If I knew then what I know now, this would have been my cue to ask a simple question like, “Is that something you think you could try the next time?” and then stop talking.
I wish I could go back, but I can only go forward. This simple three-step process is now on a sticky note on my desk. I’m going to practice using it with the principals I’m lucky enough to coach today. How might you use this process in your work?