Thursday, September 20, 2018

Student Feedback: What Matters?

My student teaching goal for 2018-2019 has been morphing since last spring as I considered a number of topics. What finally rose to the top was student feedback with respect to math teaching/learning. Why did this rise to the top?

First of all, this goal responds to Jo Boaler's advice about homework which leads us to include less repetition of skill and more reflection and deeper thinking. I hope to embed this into students' expectations and then provide meaningful feedback to this kind of homework.

Next, when I assessed the students' MCAS scores last year, I felt that better feedback for some students would have translated into greater success. These were students that easily fell through the cracks because they were quiet, able to stay under the radar, and not always completing the learning expectations for many reasons. Already my new feedback loop has demonstrated to me a few students who could easily be missed this year without a good feedback loop.

Also, this goal meets the systemwide goal which is to notice all children and not to leave any children out of the teaching/learning activity.

Finally, I know that feedback matters. Our new superintendent has made it a practice to write a simple and positive note to teachers after he visits their classrooms. This feedback has created positivity at school and encouraged teachers to work well. Feedback matters to all of us and is a terrific way to inspire good work. When you receive feedback, you are noticed and you know that someone cares about your individual work and learning.

This goal begs the question, What is good feedback?

As I think of this, I am thinking of multiple types of feedback including the following:
  • Whole class comments about the learning team's efforts and needs.
  • Individual written and verbal comments that acknowledge specific accomplishment, need, ideas for growth and betterment, and clarifying questions.
  • Asking children to share their knowledge, teach others, clarify, and enrich.
  • Using student work as exemplars, and having students share their work with the class, school, or community.
  • Emails to students, family members, and school staff.
  • Badges that demonstrate the attributes of learning well done.
  • Video comments.
  • High fives, smiles, stickers, smiley faces, other emojis, teacher-student back-and-forth journals, conversations, grades, assessment scores, rubrics. . . 
I am going to think deeply about feedback this year and study it more. If you have stories about successful feedback, please share to help me broaden and deepen this learning. Thank you!