Feedback has been my friend and nemesis for quite some time. I know the value of it and I work very hard to make my feedback to students as effective as possible. I spent quite a bit of time this year modeling what it looks like to give and receive feedback, beginning with using my principal as my writing partner (yikes!). It was good for my students to see that interaction between colleagues and notice how neither of us melted when receiving next steps for success. Last week, we used our feedback skills in a fun way. Each student laid out their writing and we all did a gallery walk, stopping to read each other's writing. Our goal on this day was to focus on delivering a 'compliment' on the writing of others that was meaningful and specific to a craft move that the author used in an effective way. As we were talking through what this would look like, I had several students ask their classmates to make sure they didn't give 'junk' or 'wasted' or 'empty' feedback. They wanted something to help them move forward as writers. My heart soared as I thought of the possibilities. With Beethoven playing in the background, we began our journey. The kids surpassed my expectations. They were very invested in reading each other's work and looking to offer words that were positive, but very targeted and specific. Later I received my own feedback from a parent. She wanted me to know that she overheard her daughter and some friends discussing the feedback work they did in class that day and were engaged in discussion on whether or not their feedback was meaningful, how they could have delivered it differently, and how they planned to use it with future writing pieces. WHAT? That rocks! It just goes to show that when you aren't sure that you are getting your point across or making a difference, your students are getting a lot more than you think they are. These kids have worked so hard to become more thoughtful and reflective writers. They set goals that are attainable and real. They crave feedback that will help them reach these goals, and when they are successful, they jump in and look for the next piece to move them along.
I may have a long way to go, but I finally feel like I am at least on the right road!