Teaching feedback vital
YOUNG people spend 13 years in a formal school setting where they are regularly assessed on what they have learned.
Student assessments are about knowing what the student can and can’t do at a particular point in time.
However, assessments can also provide good teachers with valuable insights into their own ability.
They should lead to teachers asking themselves questions about their own practice: what does the student understand? What do I need to spend more time on? What hasn’t worked for them? What do I need to change to support this student?
We don’t often see assessments in this light because too much emphasis is placed on evaluating students’ learning and not the teacher’s teaching.
It is important to remember that good teachers not only teach, they learn as well. They are continually learning about their students’ capabilities as well as their own in order to inform their future lesson planning.
Just as teachers provide students feedback as part of their learning, teachers also need to receive regular feedback. In the industrial model of schooling this does not come naturally because teachers are seen to be the authority in learning.
Feedback should not be seen as something to beat teachers over the head with, rather, it is about working collaboratively for continuous improvement.
For example, teachers can start asking students if their lesson was engaging or if they could have approached it in a different way.
I even know of some teachers who have introduced an emoticon system for students to indicate how well they understood the lesson.
This level of feedback requires building a culture of trust and openness between the student and teacher and requires a mature workforce who understand the value of constructive feedback.
When we are committed to asking questions about ‘‘how can we do this better?’’, we are helping to create a culture where everyone is focused on improving.