Part two of this three-part blog will discuss how we respond to our students once we diagnose where they are in their learning journey. Part one discussed diagnosing student understanding or preexisting knowledge of the material at the beginning of the unit. Part two we will focus on feedback. Feedback is, in my opinion, the most crucial part of teaching. This is where students can get a clear understanding of what and where they need to improve.
Feedback is the fertilizer that allows the student to succeed at a higher rate. A plant will grow whether you add fertilizer to it or not, just as a student will learn, whether you are a good teacher or not. The difference is if feedback is done well, students will learn more as in addition to feeling better about themselves during the process.
Feedback is the art and the science of teaching. It is also what separates the good teachers from the great. The good teachers circle mistakes, shows the students what they did wrong, or gives them back their formative assessments with number or letter grades that show their students how far they have to go in mastering the standards. The student understands what they did wrong and knows what needs to be fixed.
The great teachers understand each student they teach. They know that art of giving feedback. The relationships they have formed with their students allows them to use humor, cajoling, sarcasm (not opening a debate here but never throw something out of your toolbox that may work), facts, video evidence, a hug, a positive comment ignoring the fact that they messed up on half the evaluation, or a push for the student to work harder because we know they did not try their hardest. They know that some students need to be given feedback in ways that keep their pride and ego intact. The student understands what they didn’t master yet. That is a big difference from knowing what you did wrong.
The science of feedback means that teachers must have a system of documenting and showing the progress of their students. The feedback must be timely, specific, and be objective. There should be less of a good job, great effort, you made me happy and more of I noticed you did this or you worked hard and are now able to do __________.
Feedback is where students are able to see what they need to improve as well as being given resources that will help them improve. What we don’t focus enough on is how the feedback makes the student feel. Was it deflating, embarrassing, or demoralizing? Would you notice if it was? The key is to give the students feedback that will aid them without them losing their love of learning. Needless to say, that is much easier for some students than others. I have had students that would melt down or say they sucked if I told them one thing they did wrong. Others would try harder no matter how hard I pushed them.
Think of feedback as the representation of self-efficacy. Does your feedback tell students how and where they can improve in a way that encourages them or is it a number or red pen highlighting their failures and showing where they don’t meet the goals that you set for them? Will the feedback push them to work harder or will it reinforce the preconceived notion that they stink at ________ and nothing they do will change that fact?
Q1: How do you attempt to see your feedback through your students’ eyes?
Q2: What are ways that you give feedback based on their cognitive assessments?
Q3: How do you give feedback on your students’ psychomotor assessments?
Q4: How do you give feedback on your students’ affective domain?
Q5: What feedback are you the most scared to give students?