I love feedback. I appreciate how feedback has helped me to improve in different aspects of my life. I believe in giving feedback that makes someone feel good about a job well done. For me, feedback is essential to growth! Yet, I can remember countless afternoons struggling to write feedback on all my students’ essays before the next class session. I wanted to be thorough and write about all of the points I’d reference in the lessons but my hands would cramp, my brain was mush, and by the last student’s paper I was barely writing a sentence or two that I hoped would help them improve. It wasn’t until a colleague showed me what she did — quick notes on each student’s work as she walked around and observed them during independent work time — that I began to feel like my time was being used more effectively and my students were able to implement recommendations as they worked. I also found that because I was saving time, I could talk with each student and really understand their comprehension and academic needs. Those quick convos with each student were some of my favorite times as a teacher.
The essence of providing meaningful feedback is to support students’ learning growth. Comments should be designed to help them recognize what they need to do to improve without discouraging them to the point that learning is affected. Students should also understand that after feedback is given, they have an opportunity to redo the assignment and submit by a specific date.
Regardless of the class environment, here are some tips to provide effective feedback:
- Focus on a few learning objectives at a time to help you save time and prevent feeling overwhelmed (for both you and the student)
- Have students evaluate their work, using a rubric and/or sample, giving them an opportunity to identify needs for improvement before discussing it with you
- Make sure feedback is timely and ongoing so that students can quickly implement suggestions, helping them better retain information learned as they make applications to their work
- Encourage students to ask others, such as a parent, sibling, friend, etc., to review their work before submitting it (this may necessitate explaining that process to family before it is expected of your students)
- Require that students seek out peer feedback and make any changes recommended using discussion prompts or sentence frames to guide them
|Positive Statements||Suggestions for Improvement|
|I think the way you ...||One suggestion is ...|
|I am really impressed with how you ...||I think you should review ...|
|My favorite part of your work is ...||I was confused by ...|
|I think the strongest part of your work is ...||Think about changing ...|
|I appreciated how you included ...||Think about including ...|
|Your work shows ...||A better choice might be ...|
|I think ___ was amazing because ...||What I think can be improved is ...|
For distance teaching, some adjustments need to be made but feedback is no less important.
- During virtual sessions, set up breakout rooms for students to share with a partner or in small groups; this gives you an opportunity to move from room to room and/or meet with individual students about their progress
- Set office hours so that students can request one-to-one conversations about their work; better yet, set a day solely for providing feedback (‘Feedback Friday’)
- Use the ‘screen share’ feature in video conferencing apps/software to pull up the student’s work during a conference and highlight/identify specific points of discussion; you can also do this as a screen recording and send to students so that they can review on their own time
As you review these tips and begin to implement a few with your classes, reflect on the kind of feedback that has helped you improve when you were learning a new skill. Use these positive experiences to create those same experiences for your students.
To learn how to use G Suite or Microsoft 365 for facilitating discussions, go to mimio.boxlight.com/professional-development-teachers.