Coaching soccer for nearly 20 years, nothing was more effective in helping my players grow than targeted, in the moment feedback. During shooting drills, seeing one of the players consistently fire shots far above the goal frame, immediate feedback about the placement of the plant foot and getting the knee over the ball was absolutely vital to helping the player drive the ball with power and accuracy towards the goal.
Over 17 years as a teacher and instructional coach, I tried to apply a similar approach in the classroom. The classroom is different the the soccer pitch for obvious reasons. Soccer players are out there because they want to be and love the game. With that in mind, they are much more receptive to feedback and are more intrinsically motivated to elicit it from the coach. In the classroom, the converse is true. Students have to be there. It's the law. If you're reading this, I am sure you'll have no trouble envisioning students over the years you know did not want to be in your classroom or school for that matter. With that in mind, traditional classroom feedback is usually red marks on the paper after it has been submitted. Very few students actually see this as an opportunity to correct mistakes if given the opportunity. In this manner, feedback is merely an autopsy. Students in the classroom, in many cases, don't seek out feedback from the teacher. It's usually a one way street from teacher to student when the teacher has the time.
This is the paradigm I'd like to see shifted. I'd love to see a classroom environment and culture where learning experiences (not lesson plans) are designed where teachers and students engage in a robust feedback loop. I'd like to see the students eliciting feedback from the teacher as well as the other way around. The feedback loop would be a two-way street.
This will not happen over night. Like anything, it will take time to develop. It is a process. One way I have developed a similar culture in my classrooms began with the simple idea of a stop sign. As mentioned above, students traditionally do not ask for feedback while they work or are engaged in an activity. To begin "training" students to be self-reflective and ask the teacher for feedback, in the activities I design, I try to embed stop signs at strategic points. The stop signs are reminders for students to stop, reflect, raise hand and ask the teacher to come check their progress. This allows students to work at their own pace, and when I arrive, I can give them targeted, personalized feedback. This feedback is one on one. For many reasons, students fear raising their hands and asking questions in front of the whole class. One on one, or in small groups, there is less of a fear factor. This helps build relationships and rapport with students. They feel heard. The feedback I give one student, is likely to be different than that to another student.
I try to incentivize student elicited feedback by setting a "participation points" goal for each activity. Each "feedback encounter" is a point. The more they elicit feedback from me, the more points they earn. In this type of classroom, the step counter on my smartwatch is working overtime. Student elicited feedback is actually improving my health.
Let's take a look at some of the activities in which I have embedded stop signs to help create a culture of student elicited feedback.
When having students navigate an activity in Google Slides or PowerPoint, look for natural stopping points where you can insert slides with a stop sign. If there are multiple points, simply duplicate the stop sign slide and move as needed.
My book, The Complete EdTech Coach: An Organic Approach to Digital Learning, co-authored with my wife Katherine Goyette is now available on Amazon. Click here to purchase. It is published by Dave Burgess Publishing. Be sure to follow the hashtag #OrganicEdTech and #CVTechTalk for updates.