At my upcoming event, Hatch, we’re all discussing long-term success. I’ll be speaking about giving and receiving feedback. Here are some of my early thoughts:
It’s vital to give students good feedback, especially your brightest kids. It’s so easy to give them another A, tell them “great job,” and send them on their way. But these kids need to learn how to talk about their work and receive actual feedback – or we’re setting them up to see feedback as inherently bad, and giving them a lifelong fear of feedback.
But… The Work IS Great.
The problem is: what the heck do you say? It really was a “great job.” It exceeded standards. There’s nothing to really correct.
In that case, use affective questions (questions about feelings) to talk about the work rather than just the product:
- What part did you enjoy the most?
- What was the hardest part for you?
- What part are you most proud of?
- What did you spend the longest on?
- What part were you most worried about?
With affective questions, there’s no right or wrong answers. And these set up some nice probing questions to pull more from students:
- Oh really? Why do you say that?
- I see. What do you think caused that?
- Is that true for you a lot of the time?
- Do you think most people agree with that or disagree?
- When did you start thinking that?
And you can gently pop your opinion in:
- Oh, that makes sense now. I see that you were trying to explain that, but the wording wasn’t quite right. Thanks.
- I could tell that was probably your favorite part – your excitement came through in your writing.
- I really liked that part also. I had never seen someone do it like that.
De-Stress Them First
Some students will squirm when they have to sit down and chat about their work. They’re probably thinking: “OMG. What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t she get to the point? What’s my grade?” Tackle it head on:
Hey [stressed out perfect student]! We’re going to talk a bit about your paper, but don’t worry… nothing’s wrong! I haven’t even graded it yet. I want to know your thoughts first.
Will this take some time? Yes, but do it while the others are working on something. Make the time. The information you’ll gather will be so worth it, plus you’re helping these kids get used to chatting with authority.