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Week 8: Quality teacher feedback

A part of your duties as a course leader during your week will be to give everybody feedback on their responses to your tasks. Feedback is a big chunk of the job description of a teacher! 

Toward this goal, please list three or more qualities of feedback that helps others learn, understand, grow, become inspired. Hopefully, we will construct a big collective list out of these good practices, and follow the list when it's our turn to give feedback.

Think of what feedback YOU want to receive on your task responses for the rest of the course!

Here is my list, to start.

  1. Particular feedback! Hearing "Great job!" or "This is interesting" does not work for me. I want to know what particular things were strong in my content and what connections did the reviewer made to his or her particular interests. Give me the gory details.
  2. Math e-x-t-e-n-s-i-o-n-s. I want to see mathy articles and videos related to my stuff; links to bloggers who are interested in that; current online discussions of the relevant examples; art that metaphorically expresses key ideas; comics on the subject, and so on. 
  3. Feedback with love and care. I want my teachers to comment on things in my work they liked well enough, rather than things that they totally dislike. (And I tend to view even blog commenters, and people giving me any  feedback, as my teachers.) Seth Godin talked about "love to the audience, respect from the audience" - that love and care is the quality that I want to see in feedback to me.

Task Discussion

  • Katherine Hanisco   March 11, 2013, 5:57 p.m.

    Some of my suggestions have been mentioned in various forms, so I will try to expand on them.

    Personal connections. A huge part of my teaching philosophy is that students need to find ways to personally connect to the material and make their own meaning in order to successfully learn math, and that it is my job as an educator to guide them to that place of understanding. Hearing how different people with different backgrounds/interests/life experiences found meaning from my tasks and related them to their own lives gives me new ways of thinking about the tasks, which I can then use to help my students. And if there is a task that you can’t relate or connect to at all, or that feels really meaningless to you, I want to hear that, too.

    Specifics and references. A few comments have touched on the benefits of learning from each other, but it is something I think is very important. All of us are at different points in our teacher education and have valuable insight whether it is something you learned in another course, something you’ve dealt with in your own classroom, etc. I appreciate any feedback where you can use specific examples from your personal experience or links to research or concepts you’ve studied that are relevant.

    Feedback upon feedback. I think that some of the most meaningful learning experiences I have had have been the result of an open interactive dialogue. If someone leaves feedback to me that speaks to you in some way, please feel free to build upon that. Whether it’s agreement, disagreement, or just an additional viewpoint, that kind of collaborative feedback is something I find very valuable.

  • Lisa Ritt   March 10, 2013, 2:15 p.m.


    1. Particular feedback! While I appreciate hearing what someone likes, I do find that a suggestion or getting a different perspective on how to approach something is most important to me. Although constructive criticism is sometime har dto hear or read, I find it IS what helps me be the best person/teacher/student I can be. PLEASE anything and everything, I'm happy to hear and thankful for it! YES- the GORY DETAILS!!
    2. Math e-x-t-e-n-s-i-o-n-s. This is so crucial for me at this time in my transition to teaching. Please, all of your experience with technology and what has worked or not is really important for me to listen to. I find I am so novice to what students are using technology for and how teachers are helping students connect to lessons through technology is where I feel I need to most feedback. All your brainstorming online suggestions are fantastic!
    3. Feedback with love and care. I will assume you respect me as I definitely respect all of you. Please don't feel the need to sugar coat your help. Of course, calling me stupid won't help at all. I honestly would rather you TELL me something that IS what you do NOT think will work. Then, of course what you like as well. But, more importantly what you think needs improvement. Also- Engaging, exciting and motivating me to keep expanding my work us super important. HONESTY that I can understand through your postive vibe is perfect! Many many thanks guys!
  • Gina Mulranen   March 9, 2013, 8:12 a.m.

    1. How it helped you. I love hearing about how the material I provided helped other teachers to enhance their instruction, learn a new skill, or how they can apply it to a future lesson. I just taught a Professional Development session on instructional strategies that meet the emotional needs of gifted students, since the instructional staff I work with all teach gifted as well. At the staff meeting each week, some of the teachers had shared how well a strategy worked for them and how others can benefit from using it. It is very helpful to see the different variations of the content I taught and how useful it is to other teachers.

    2. Giving ideas. Don't just tell me what didn't work or that it was great. Give me ideas! I love when I get ideas from other teachers. Whether it is a cool project I could use in conjunction with a lesson I taught, a cool link relating to the topic, a different way to teach a concept, a link that would have worked better, or a new way to do group work in class, I always welcome and enjoy learning new strategies and techniques. I think that as teachers, it is important to be able to share each other's ideas and strategies that worked in order to make us all successful teachers. The sense of community is what I really love about this profession. Therefore, I welcome and encourage ideas on how I can enhance my content and delivery.

    3. Feedback sandwich. I have heard this term before when giving others feedback. You provide one compliment followed by a constructive point and then end with another positive comment so the feedback ends on a positive note. I have sometimes provided a "double decker" sandwich when I have more than one point I want the student to improve on, but I always make sure I start and end with a positive remark about their assignment or project, especially when I see the level of effort put into it.

  • MgnLeas   March 5, 2013, 10:26 p.m.

    Here is my addition to our list.

    Strengths and Opportunities: Instead of telling me what I did good (my strengths) and what I did bad (my weaknesses), tell me my strengths and opportunities (what I can do better next time). I like this terminology better because it is less negative. I do not want to hear I did a bad job; I would like to hear what I can do to improve upon what I did.

    Be Honest: I want feedback that will help me grow as an educator. Please do not try to spare my feelings by saying something is good if it is not. If you have an opinion, be honest. Constructive feedback will help me to be better.

    Expand: I know only what I know. But you know only what you know. If you have more knowledge on what I know, tell me that way your knowledge becomes my knowledge. This will help me to learn more.

  • SueSullivan   March 7, 2013, 8:04 p.m.
    In Reply To:   MgnLeas   March 5, 2013, 10:26 p.m.

    Megan, I love how under 'Strengths and Opportunities' you mentioned "what I can do better NEXT TIME'.  A teacher who puts comments in terms of 'next time' encourages by the student by reminding them that yes, they do have the potential for mastery and that their teacher isn't giving up on them.  Great thought!