Feedback and Professional Learning

Feedback – a word that can bring up a whirlwind of emotions at its mention. It’s in our human nature to want to know how we’re doing and ways that we can improve, but also feel fear that we aren’t up to par. In the professional world, oftentimes when we hear it’s time for an annual review or scheduled feedback we worry where we will land on the mark. In the world of education, we frequently talk about feedback in terms of student growth and improvement. Something not discussed as much with educators is the need for feedback from our peers/administrators.

This has been on my mind as we have been focusing on ISTE Standard 5b this last week. “Build the capacity of educators, leaders and instructional teams to put the ISTE Standards into practice by facilitating active learning and providing meaningful feedback.” From this standard, I have decided to focus my research around providing feedback to adult learners during professional learning. I started with this short TedTalk:

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtl5UrrgU8c

In this short, Renniger shares that the tool we most need as professionals is learning to give and receive feedback well. She gives strategies to share difficult messages well so that you can provide clear and concise feedback. She breaks it down into a four-part formula that you can use to say any difficult message well:

  1. The Micro-Yes: When giving feedback, begin by asking a question. This allows the brain to prepared for feedback to come. It might be a question like “Do you have a few minutes to talk about _______?”
  2. Data Point: Sharing objectively with the person you are providing feedback to what you saw/heard. Use words that are specific and provide examples.
  3. Show Impact: Name exactly how the data point impacted you. This can be used in positive and constructive feedback. This provides logic and meaning between the points.
  4. End on a Question: End your feedback with a question that allows commitment rather than compliance. You are looking for a joint problem-solving conversation.

From this video, I decided to dig deeper into educator thoughts on feedback. The common thread I found in all the articles and blogs that I read, was that it is important build relationships on respect and trust. It is more likely that your feedback will be accepted and put into practice, if you have a mutually respectful relationship. On the flip, if you are receiving feedback from someone that you feel mutual respect and trust, you will be more willing to receive it openly.

Another part I found interesting, was an answer from Douglass Reeves on an EducationWeek opinion piece. He shares that during professional development, it is important to include “choice, debate, and feedback”. Specifically, on feedback he mentioned how in his PD he’s started asking his participants to keep their phones out and on them. He encourages them to text and Tweet throughout the process. From there, he can show how many people in his audience participated and allows all to learn from each other.

After I got some basic ideas down about feedback and its importance, I looked more specifically into the how and strategies of collecting feedback during professional learning sessions. On Teacher Cast, I came across a podcast with Jeffrey Bradbury and Susan Vincentz. Here they share some things you can do during professional development to get feedback from your participants. Here is what stood out to me:

  • Why get feedback? – you can use feedback to get a feel for where your participants are before and after your session. If it will build, you can get a feel for where to go next. This will also allow you to reflect on how successful your presentation went
  • How to get feedback? – throughout the session, watch the body language of your participants. You can tell pretty quickly if they are engaged or checked out. You can provide participants an exit ticket, much as we do with your students. Another idea I liked was using a parking lot strategy. Participants can leave questions they have throughout the presentation either on paper or digitally that will be addressed throughout the learning session
  • What kinds of questions? – when deciding what to ask your participants, focus on their learning. How was the session beneficial to them? Did they receive all they need or are there still things they need support with?
  • What do you do with your feedback? – USE IT! If you are going to be with the participants again, follow up. Address items that were brought up in the feedback. If you aren’t, still use the feedback to drive your presentation. Was there something that didn’t work? Reflect on your practice so that you can make it better for next time.

Conclusion

Humans crave feedback. We want to know where we can do better, and we want to hear praise where we have done well. Adult learners, like children need a respectful and trusting relationship to really absorb feedback to make changes to their practice. As a professional leader, it is not just your job to provide feedback but to model and ask for it from your learners. Use the feedback that you get to make experiences better for your learners. Have you ever found a feedback strategy that worked really well during professional learning? Ever received feedback that has stuck with you over the years? Share your thoughts below!

Resources

  • Bradbury, Jeffrey. (2020, January 27). How To Create A Meaningful Survey For Your Conference Presentations. The TeacherCast Educational Network. Retrieved from https://www.teachercast.net/captivate-podcast/attc-ep79-post-workshop-feedback-survey/
  • Ferlazzo, Larry. (2018, June 9). Response: Improve Professional Development With ‘Choice, Debate, & Feedback’ (Opinion). Education Week. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/opinion-response-improve-professional-development-with-choice-debate-feedback/2018/06
  • Jotform. (2019, May 7). Professional development for teachers: Feedback forms matter. JotForm. Retrieved from https://stories.jotform.com/professional-development-for-teachers-feedback-forms-matter-c4aed06ec0cb
  • Marvel, Aaron. (2018, June 7). The place of reflection in PD. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/place-reflection-pd
  • MyPLGoals. (n.d.). Use Feedback to Promote Professional Growth. MyPLGoals. Retrieved from https://www.myplgoals.com.au/blog-1/use-feedback-to-promote-professional-growth#:~:text=Feedback%20is%20critical%20to%20promoting,-monitoring%20and%20self-reflection
  • Office of Educational Technology. (n.d.). Assessment. Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/assessment/

3 thoughts on “Feedback and Professional Learning”

  1. What an insightful blog! I really appreciated how this blog approaches the intentionality in the delivery of the feedback. And the points provided by Renniger that you outlined are helpful for anyone to immediately apply. So is asking the purpose and intent of the feedback and the follow up action steps. Asking the “what now?” with feedback provides the continual growth and a clear direction in a positive manner. Thank you for sharing your research!

  2. Great post! I thought that you really captured the heart at the outset with your initial sentence, “Feedback – a word that can bring up a whirlwind of emotions at its mention. It’s in our human nature to want to know how we’re doing and ways that we can improve, but also feel fear that we aren’t up to par.” So many emotions and things to be mindful of! The four-part formula for conveying a difficult message was especially helpful and insightful. I like the idea of the “micro-yes” and ending with a question as opposed to a request or directive. Nice job tying everything up at the end as well. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wonderful blog post, Rachel! I really enjoyed the video from Renniger and the four-part formula shared. The micro-yes” strategy shared is one that I found to be interesting. I think that it is a great strategy for beginning a conversation around feedback. The Teacher Cast podcast episode was also insightful. I appreciated the summary you provided from that podcast and strategies shared, and it was a great listen. Thanks for sharing your research and also the connections between adult and student learning!

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