Part 1- Laying the Ground Work: Feedback Focused

One of my AAU basketball coaches would always say “When I stop pushing and being tough on you, that is when you have to worry.” At that time, I didn’t fully grasp what he meant by it. Reflecting on it now as a teacher and coach, I am able to appreciate his words. He was letting us  know that he challenged us because he cared and saw our potential. He was giving us the feedback and criticism necessary to take us to the next level of playing.

I recently found an  older article, by Paul Sohn, discussing the secret to great feedback, which reminded me of my coach’s catchphrase.  It stated:

Researchers discovered that there was one particular type of teacher feedback that improved student effort and performance so much that they considered it “magical.”Students who received this feedback chose to revise their paper far more often that students who did not (a 40 percent increase among white students; 320 percent boost among black students) and improved their performance significantly. What was the magical feedback?

Just one sentence:

I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations for you, and I know that you can reach them.

Similar to my coach’s words: very simple, short and to the point but possess a great power to generate a sense of belonging, connection and motivation.

As teachers, we must understand the power our feedback can have on a student’s progress.  To make it a positive, meaningful experience, we must first do some ground work.

  • Your first step before anything is creating a relationship with your students. They must know that everything you do is because you care. I believe these two quotes embody the connection between student relationships and feedback:
    • Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care- Theodore Roosevelt. 

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  • When students experience an authentic, crystal-clear signal of social trust, belonging, and high expectations, the floodgates click open. – Daniel Coyle
  • Have an open dialogue about feedback to begin the year. Discuss how receiving feedback is a positive experience and learning opportunity.

After laying the ground work, the next step is actually creating a process for feedback. In my Part 2 post, I will discuss some ideas I have that may help you move from having feedback be a singular, red ink event towards a “loop” and reflective conversation. It will focus on tools and strategies that will aid in the process!

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