My article on feedback is the lead article in this month’s Educational Leadership. I provide a clear definition of what feedback is and (especially) what it ISN’T. Feedback is not advice (e.g. Use more detail!), nor is it evaluation (e.g. Good job!) even though many people write and talk as if it were. This conflation is unfortunate. Pure feedback is the key to SELF-Improvement. Feedback is descriptive information on what happened, given a goal – actionable effects/results/data that I can use to improve.

You can read the article online here.

I received a lovely email in reply to the article, and I excerpt it below:

As I re-read your article from the perspective of a classroom teacher who has only ever provided ineffective feedback, I was left with the grapple of how to more consistently elevate my feedback.  I am imagining adding a last section called “What If We Could Easily Make Time?” to follow your last section “But There’s No Time”…that we will write together as a discussion group.  I am unsure if it will match the caliber of your expertise, but I am sure that leaving our readers with a few words of possible and positive next steps (I believe) will increase the likelihood of my teachers actually implementing your words.

I imagine a few of these bullets surfacing as tangible steps during the “What if We Could Easily Make Time” discussion:

      • What if I asked my kids to consistently take a look at their finished products before handing them in, and asked them to write down one thing they think they did with quality and one thing they think they could add or do differently to make their work even higher quality?
      • What if I asked my kids to swap their finished product with another student to invite their feedback on what is done well and what could be done even better?
      • What if I invited my kids to go ahead and implement their own feedback, or their peers’ feedback, before turning in their products for “grading”?
      • What if I asked my kids more often what their goal is for, say, their group work time today (instead of just turning them loose)?
      • What if I asked the groups to write their goal down?
      • What if I paused the class after maybe 10 minutes and asked each group to take a look back at their goal and to identify one thing that is going well and one thing they could do better to help them meet their written goal?
      • What if I asked my kids on a Monday morning, for example, to write down one goal they have in mind for the week ahead?
      • What if I asked my kids on Friday to think back over the week and self-evaluate how they did in taking their goal seriously?
      • What if I noticed decisions that kids made that were helpful for their meeting a goal, and to write down my observation on a sticky note in the moment for them to have as evidence on their “goal form”?

 As a coach, I am thrilled by the possibility of just one teacher daring to pursue just one of the “what ifs”…

What a great follow-up! Thanks, Diane!

PS: A number of people asked for more examples than were in the article. ASCD editors chopped my original in half for space reasons. So you can have the original longer article, with more examples and explanations; and some Powerpoint slides with examples here:  Feedback Wiggins FINAL DRAFT 2012 Feedback Overview.pptx

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