Feedback To Move FORWARD

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Effective feedback can almost double our impact as educators. Research that considers schools across the globe from various year levels has found that effective feedback can promote almost two years growth in a one year period.

Within my school environment, I conducted a study in which all educational staff (teachers of classrooms, specialist programs and support staff) recorded the words they said within a teacher-to-learner conference and coded their verbal feedback on a template. What did we find?

Four levels of Feedback exist and they make a BIG difference in learning;

  • Self – Feedback about the learner e.g. “Good job,” “Fantastic,” “You are so focussed,” “Keep it up!”
  • Task – Feedback specific to the task or activity the learner is completing e.g. “You have used an excellent word for a narrative,” “Well done, you applied your reading goal of main idea,” “I can see you have added the fractions written.”
  • Process – Feedback that extends a skill or strategy beyond the task e.g. “Wow, you have applied your spelling words to your writing,” “Excellent, so you have located the main idea across three books of different genres,” “Great, I can see you have applied the common denominator strategy to these fractions”
  • Self-Regulation – The absolute GOLD of Feedback – All other levels are the educator speaking, this level is when the learner shares their Feedback e.g. “I used my spelling words here, to upgrade my word choice when editing,” “I completed the main idea quite quickly, so I’ve also found the supporting details,” “I used the common denominator strategies, then I drew the fractions too, showing how they look in a picture.”

So how does this translate to home?

Our classroom research showed that we sit in the level of ‘Self’ and ‘Task’ feedback most of the time (it matched the research). Now, ‘Self’ and ‘Task’ have their place; to build learner confidence and connection. Generally, they have low impact on growth. As home educators, we are striving for student-led learning, aiming to hit that deep level of Feedback (Self-Regulation) frequently.

FeedFORWARD…is that actually a word?

So let’s break this research down so we can use it at home.

We have Feedback and FeedFORWARD. Feedback is when we highlight and honour the learning that our child has applied, but FeedFORWARD is when we push their learning forward. This is where the magic happens. This is more applicable at home than trying to think about what ‘level’ you are delivering in.

Firstly, slow the way you communicate (spoken or written) Feedback by asking yourself;

  • Is this something my child has done well? (Feedback)
  • Is this the next point of success for my child? (FeedFOWARD

The two areas should be delivered equally, at any point in the learning, honour what they have done (well) and set a new area for learning. Let’s repeat that word in brackets. Select what they have done well. Something they have achieved. Not the spelling mistakes, not the scribbly writing or lack of full stops. Those are your FeedFORWARD. Honour one, just one, skill they have done well e.g. Their persuasive title, their risk taking with vertical subtraction or their unwavering focus for 20 minutes. One piece of Feedback, then one piece of FeedFORWARD.

At the start of every term, we would review these two concepts with the children to ensure they too could deliver both Feedback and Feedforward to each other.

Once that FeedFORWARD becomes the Feedback then we can set a new area for learning. Simple? Not at all, but it does pay off. Research proves it. You are almost doubling your impact. It will take practice.

If you have a some time to go deeper (like a lot of time), here is the research;

  • An easy, but 20 minute read of the research can be found here.
  • The power of positive feedback over correcting flaws can be located here (10 minute read).
  • The research I have based my Feedback study on (about a 30 minute) intricate read by John Hattie and Helen Timperley, 2007, can he found here.

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