Without feedback we would not learn at all. If I touch a hot stove, I receive very painful feedback that teaches me not to do that again. When I tell a joke I receive laughter as feedback, if the joke was funny. If it wasn't funny, I receive blank faces that are, knowing my jokes, shaking their head in embarrassment for me. As a teacher, we must utilize that ability to learn from feedback in the same way. We must practice what we preach!
I teach a fourth grade English immersion class in Seoul, South Korea. There are many ways I would like to try and use in my class, and I am still a work in progress, but the three ways I receive feedback are based on how I run a classroom.
I try and be a guiding "more knowledgable other," as Vygotsky said in regards to his 'zone of proximal development' (Fisher & Frey, 2010). He believed that we could guide the learner to better understanding than the Socratic attempt to fill the pool by running the hose for hours on end. The first way I receive feedback that I can trust from my students is through open discussion. I simply ask questions about the learning at times when it seems obvious some of the kids are struggling. I ask them, in real time, if what I am doing is working or not. Because we have a relaxed atmosphere where I'm not the strict "Big Brother" but the teacher that is open to responses like this, I feel they are comfortable to give me honest advice. Sometimes, a little too honest, but I welcome the banter and safety that environment offers my students. The second way I receive feedback is less interactive, but a staple in teaching - the student work. Are the students showing me what I expected to see, if not then I need to consider what I am doing wrong or I can do better to make that a reality. This is especially useful in differentiation in class for the next lesson. I can use the work itself (homework and class assignments) to alter, revise, and adjust my teaching to achieve better results. The third way I can receive useful feedback is an anonymous feedback box where students can write down their feelings without concern of me or other students knowing what they said for the best possible honesty. I do not currently do this in class, but I have wanted to implement this for a little while, and I should now. I believe this will give me the extra feedback I need to try and make the class more effective. I'd like to see what the students' ideas for class are and how I can take those ideas and make them effective and engaging (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 270).
One tool I plan on using is a technology based tool for gathering student feedback. Click the link below to check out their site.
Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2010). Chapter 1. Scaffolds for Learning: The Key to Guided Instruction. Guided Instruction. ASCD. Retreived from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/111017/chapters/Scaffolds-for-Learning@-The-Key-to-Guided-Instruction.aspx
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by design. (2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.