Thursday, September 08, 2016

Actionable Feedback PD

You probably think I don't pay attention at PD but I do. I went to a session on Tuesday all about feedback. Evidently it has to be specific and timely. You know, you tell students right away when they have an issue. That way they can deal with it right away. For example, you should wait 30 days and then tell them about what they did last month. You also shouldn't wait 45 days and then talk to them about what they did six weeks ago, while they wait to find out what they did last month.

It's also important that the feedback be actionable. For example, you should provide strategy. This is how you can write, draw, or do that better. I would do it like this. This is what this writer does. You can't just say, "Boy, did that suck," and move on. That's not actionable. You have to offer ways they can improve.

Also, you should be positive. You can't dwell on the student's incompetence or make invidious comparisons. You can't say things like, "Why can't you teach learn like your colleague that other student?" You can't ask, "Why isn't your passing rate grade as high as this other teacher student?" It's important to be positive. That will encourage people to grow and learn. You certainly don't want to discourage people and have them wondering what the use is.

It's important that you offer change step by step. For example, you ought not to focus on every domain of Danielson paragraph of a composition. You should do one step at a time so the teacher student is not overwhelmed. After all, it isn't reasonable to expect a sea change overnight.

And of course you need to be receptive and assume there is an opportunity for change. Let's say, for example, you're walking around all over the building saying this teacher student sucks and you can't wait to get rid of her. Well, that might get back to the teacher student, and then how would she feel? Probably she'd feel the situation was hopeless and she'd be likely to give up. What's the point of aiming for improvement when you've destroyed a person's morale?

Peer feedback is important too. You can't just have a supervisor teacher talking down to a teacher student. That won't be as effective as it would be if you had peer to peer interaction. That's important in Danielson too, so it's noteworthy in our system. It's also easier to give feedback when the subject isn't present. That way, teachers students can learn without feeling targeted. After all, no one likes being targeted. Anonymity is always good, if possible.

It's important to target specific areas. If you were to say, for instance, that everything without exception is wrong, it could cause the teacher student to shut down. Once that happens, there's little or not possibility for improvement and all your effort is in vain. You can't just hand a person a list, say good luck, and hope for the best.

So that's what I got out of our PD session. Can you see any way it might apply or be helpful at your school?
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