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Ever Better: Project 180, Day 29

Yes, feedback is critical, not personal, but when it’s delivered personally, it’s not taken quite so critically.

In yesterday’s post about learning stories, I remarked that the Do-Learn-Do Better approach to learning is not only something I push on my kids, but it is also something that I push on myself–both personally and professionally. It is how I try to live my life. And yesterday, as I sat down to help my kids pen their next pages with my feedback on a practice activity, I added a few lines to my own learning story.

If I plugged it into the template that I shared yesterday, it would go something like this.

What I did: Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time poring over kids’ practice activities, writing lengthy comments, indicating if they hit the target, providing feedback for growth. I promised them that I would have it back to them before the assessment on Wednesday, and I was able to get 2nd and 3rd period done, but 6th would have to wait till Tuesday, which was not ideal, but I would still honor my pledge to get it back before the assessment. So, as the kids continued working on their My Learning Projects, I sat down with each kid in 2nd and 3rd, sharing my feedback, giving tips for a better performance on the assessment. This went well.

Bummed that I did not have 6th done, I decided part way through 3rd period that I would just sit down with kids during 6th and assess it on the spot, verbalizing face-to-face my feedback in real time. This went better. I’ll explain.

What I learned: Rather, what I remembered. I’ve known for a long time now that I can get more done in a shorter amount of time in a face-to-face conference with a kiddo than I can writing lengthy comments in isolation.  But for some reason, I forget, and I revert back to old habits, spending way too much time writing way too many comments that the kids won’t likely read anyway. It’s not efficient. But my learning yesterday was more than a reminder about efficient practice.

About halfway through 3rd period, I realized that my conferencing with the kids was simply my reading my comments to them. Of course, it wasn’t just that. I also attempted to set their minds at ease, assuring them gently that my feedback was critical, not personal, wishing them luck on the upcoming assessment, yada, yada, yada. And, at this point, it dawned on me that I could just sit down with kids during 6th and get it done. And I did, but I also learned something along the way.

Yes, feedback is critical, not personal, but when it’s delivered personally, it’s not taken quite so critically. With pen in hand in isolation, I become the distant critic of the work. Sitting beside a kid, I become the caring coach, offering a critique of their performance.  And while the content of my feedback is basically the same, the delivery and reception of my feedback take on a different feel, as the student and I engage in a real dialogue about their learning, a sweet symphony of the verbal and non-verbal, striving for harmony.  Indeed, the song was better sung 6th period.

What I will do next time: Next time, I will not forget. Next time, I will remember that I can do so much more for kids in person than I can in isolation. Of course the struggle has always been and will continue to be carving out the necessary time. But I can and will make it happen. I have to. It may be the most important role I can play in their stories. Next time, I will do better. Ever better. Next time…

Happy Tuesday, all. ‘Til next time.


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