Friday, July 27, 2018

Feeding Your Feedback Strategies

This week was day one of the annual Leadership Academy for secondary schools in my district. It's a chance for anyone who sees themselves as a leader or just wants to get more involved in their school to participate in the annual data dig as we sort through ACT and ACT Aspire numbers and student engagement data. As a department head, I feel an obligation to go but I also really like to know what's going on. These Academy days are also when we plan PD for the staff.

Recently I wrote how my school really shifted our early release Thursday focus last year to be more teacher centered and used this time for PLCs to meet. That isn't changing for this year but it does appear that our day just got 15 minutes longer. Hopefully those minutes can be used for those, "must dos" like epi-pen training and quick nuts and bolts. Plus, there is something to be said for a staff to connect for just a few minutes each week for celebrations. We're a big school and there are some people I only see throughout the week when we have staff meetings.

This week when we broke into smaller committees, I found myself focusing on the 4 C's, the 4 C's rubrics and how those skills can be integrated into classrooms. This built on the work we did last school year looking at the rubrics and writing, "I Can" statements and a descriptor for each of the 4C's. Our why behind this work is still a little foggy to me and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that since I've been a part of every single step so far. Ultimately, we defined skills that students need to be successful after high school not just in an academic setting but also in a career or just life. We want teachers and students to be mindful of these skills in the classroom.
Communication:  I can respectfully ask questions and provide comments to create clarity or prompt further discussion. 
Critical Thinking:  I can use reasoning to create logical solutions to problems. 
Collaboration:  I can use feedback to prioritize and monitor individual and team progress toward producing high quality work.
Creativity:  I can generate insight and develop original solutions, persevering through setbacks. 
What I'm afraid is that it will be perceived as the staff as, one more thing. My goal, since I'm now on this committee, is to make the PD surrounding the message meaningful. I enjoy designing PD and presenting to my co-workers strategies that they can implement in their classrooms. I see this as an opportunity to have an honest discussion about feedback in the classroom.

This summer I had the opportunity to hear Garnet Hillman speak about giving effective feedback. I think if you spend 20 seconds in any conversation about how to move students forward the idea of feedback is going to come up. This is not a new idea but do teachers know how to give meaningful and effective feedback? From my work as a Destination Imagination team manager, I know all too well that it's easy to guide a student to the solution and that it's difficult to guide them through the process of having them discover the solution on their own. I see this in classrooms all the time. Teachers spend so much time writing comments on what needs to be fixed, what the next steps are and I ask who's doing the learning when this happens? Or, items are just marked wrong on an assessment with no feedback. Does that promote learning?

What I hope to provide my staff is an understanding of the why behind meaningful feedback. We need to move beyond punitive, recognize when corrective feedback is appropriate and provide  actionable feedback. This is when the student takes action to correct their own errors. During Garnet Hillman's presentation, I wrote down a dozen or so apps or websites to help teachers provide feedback. However, the strategies that I am most interested in sharing out are Mark Barnes' SE2R strategy and TAG,

S:  Summarize, include a positive or strength here
E:  Explain, include or reference the standard
R:  Redirect, direct students to reflect on prior learning or seek help from a teacher or peer
R:  Resubmit,  once the work has be revised, ask the student to re-submit

Going back to the 4C's "I Can" statements, students will need to also learn how to give quality and meaningful feedback to each other in order to develop communication and collaboration skills. I like the TAG strategy for this one.

T:  Tell What You Like
A:  Ask a question about the work
G:  Give an actionable suggestion

On the back of a scrap piece of paper, I currently have sketched out a plan on what a PD session, that's also going to double as the PLC kick-off, could look like. It's partly inspired by a Destination Imagination activity that I do with my team at every practice (and will be fun and promote laughter...I think they'll be more likely to remember with that emotion attached to it), introduces the work that has been done with these "I Can" statements and provides teachers with two, if not more, feedback strategies that they can start using right away. I'm a little nervous but in the end, I think it will be well received.


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