The Art of Feedback

I meet with a group of educators each week to talk shop, and this week our conversation turned to how to give effective feedback.  We started the conversation by watching a video of a 6th grade teacher delivering a lesson and then talked about how we would offer feedback to this particular teacher.

The conversation included several excellent and specific ideas centered around some feedback basics: feedback should be goal focused, tangible, sincere, timely, consistent, supportive, etc.  The conversation was helpful, but a bit basic until nearly the end.  And then it happened…

The most veteran educator among us (a retired superintendent) talked about her understanding of offering feedback.  She described it as an art form.  An art form… I love that.  This simple and beautiful way to consider feedback has stuck with me all week.  Yes, there are some principles to follow when offering feedback… and there’s also some artistic freedom involved.  Yes, we need to make sure that it’s sincere and tangible and supportive… and each situation is different enough that our feedback needs to be flexible enough to fit and be heard.

This particular superintendent has offered feedback to me on several occasions and she always does it with such a kind and thoughtful style.  She’s certainly a feedback artist.  With me, she asks questions.  Maybe she does this for everyone but maybe she does it because she knows that I love questions.  Maybe she senses that this conversational model is the most motivating and life-giving for me.  Did you think about _____?  I noticed that you said _____, how do you think that applies to _____? I wonder what would happen if you did _____?  That worked here, but what about a situation that looks more like _____?

Thanks for being awesome, Kathi.  You make education better by the way you practice the art of feedback.  I want to do the same. I want to be like you when I grow up.

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