Taking part in the #EDUDO movement, I thought I would share a couple of tips and tricks discussed in our admin meeting last week on providing feedback. There was an ASCD post recently from Robyn Jackson that highlighted 4 ways to give effective feedback. There was a post in the Washington Post that came to the conclusion that feedback was a crucial part of the walk through process.
“Although the researchers suggest that their results should be considered exploratory, they do suggest a general principle of instructional leadership that fits well with one overarching principle of learning: feedback is essential. Instructional leadership activities that offer meaningful feedback to teachers may help. Those that don’t, will not.”
How then can you give quality feedback when you have so much else on your plate? By planning, making it a priority, and having the right tools!
1. Plan to be in classrooms to actually GIVE the feedback!
We use Eduphoria which has several tools to help me keep track of how many walk throughs & observations I have done for each teachers. (You could easily make a checklist in Evernote, which I’ll come back to in a moment. Put that in your pocket, save it for later.) Each week I get an email telling me how many I have completed. Within the system I can I easily check to see how many i have done for each teacher. I also have it sent to email me each every other week when there are teachers that don’t have a certain number of walk throughs.
I also, with the greatness of Melinda Miller, have made it a point to write down on our calendars exactly who we plan on visiting. If not by specific names, then at least with a number of rooms per day. It sounds completely simple, but it has been surprisingly effective!
2. Go old school with a note!
I’ve used this form and it’s been my go to for several years. It’s template based but allows me to personalize. I print multiple copies each week and commit to sharing them. Being intentional in looking for the good…I never run out of good things to brag on! Print your own at “Technology rocks. Seriously.”
3. Tech it up a bit with a suggestion from the greatness of Jessica Branch. I like taking pictures when I see something happening in the classroom, but she suggested combining the Red Stamp app and the picture to send a teacher a visual “wow!” instead of a paper post it. You have the option to even email it straight from the app, so it’s easy!
4. Remember that Evernote from earlier? Pull it out of your pocket to enjoy it now! Evernote is a tool that I’ve used in the past to keep a running record of the classrooms I visit. I’m able to create a page for each teacher, and take notes of what I see happening. Our standard walk through form doesn’t allow for a longitudinal record of my visits, but in Evernote I can make simple notes of what I am observing and be able t track feedback over the semester/year. Teachers have access to what I’ve written and know what I’ve seen each time I’ve been there. This is valuable to help keep me in line with visiting at different times and making sure I am seeing different subjects and teaching styles. (whole group, vs small group, etc.) there’s also a handy checklist option! You can read more about that here.
Feedback needs to be timely and relevant to the learner’s needs in order to be effective. Keeping that in mind, be ready to share something timely, something constructive, and something positive. Without feedback of any kind, we would not learn at all, period. We would end up doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again…but it also ensures that teachers (or students!) feel as if we know what is happening with each teacher (or student!) individually. Their lead learner should be the person who delivers that feedback as well the one who can help them move forward.