This term, I was assigned a new RISE buddy in Loredana. Both Loredana and I brought some writing samples and resources to our meeting that we could speak to. FEEDBACK was the topic of our conversation. I have done some reading recently about feedback in education, and something that is alarmingly obvious is the need to create a culture for feedback. As a result of this reading, it is my opinion that the journey towards effective feedback is a marathon, not a sprint.
In James & Jill Nottingham’s text - Challenging Learning Through Feedback (2017) - some important quotes are relevant to our context.
An excellent feedback culture would be built on trust
An excellent feedback culture would have a focus on learning and progress
An excellent feedback culture would consider feedback to be the revealing of clues for learning
An excellent feedback culture includes ‘eureka’ moments
An excellent feedback culture would identify challenge as being more interesting
An excellent feedback culture would acknowledge what brain research suggests to be true: challenge is good for students both neurologically and pedagogically
An excellent feedback culture would include teachers ‘walking the talk’ and showing that they too welcome and learn from feedback
An excellent feedback culture would be shared with all members of the school community
Trust, challenge and learning are the three key points that can be taken from this research. As a response to the literature, in line with my feedback goal, it was clear to me that before I could even see the finish line of effective feedback (of which I take the stance that there will never be a definitive end as there will always be new learning and research), I needed to create a culture of feedback in my classroom.
Enter - learning intentions and success criteria. Rather than focussing my learning goals this semester on the rubric expectations, I used the language of the success criteria for our writing when providing feedback. Through the use of the exemplar text, explicit modelled writing sessions, collaborative writing experiences and group conferences, my students were questioned to think deeply about their work and evaluate it based on the success criteria. Most students responded well to this. A challenge that remains for me in this domain is providing students with the skills to, knowingly, apply this feedback to more than one piece of writing and across all Key Learning Areas.
In response to the idea that An excellent feedback culture would include teachers ‘walking the talk’ and showing that they too welcome and learn from feedback, I welcomed students to complete a survey about my teaching (image shown below).
This modelled to my students my own vulnerability as a learner, and provided me with some key areas for improvement. Which brings me to my next pedagogical goal. My lowest ‘scoring’ area was - My teacher knows what I need to improve on, and talks to me about how I can achieve my goals. No real surprises here as my focus for the term has been on creating a culture of feedback. The feedback from students lets me know that they are ready for more in depth feedback and conversations about learning. With regard to this, Loredana and I spoke at length about timing. Finding the time, sharing the time among students, giving enough time. We spoke through some practical strategies for this - checklists for teacher accountability, mixing the Newman and core classes for more effective peer feedback, extended writing time in which students can ask questions and engage in conversations about their learning.
Until next time, I will continue to rise to the challenge of feedback and read literature around the pedagogy and practicality of feedbacking in the classroom, in order to feedforward into improved student learning outcomes.
P.s. I have also included an interesting page from the textbook mentioned above - Strategies for Building Safety and Trust in the classroom to promote a culture of feedback.