Saturday, November 8, 2014

Feedback that supports thinking

I've just completed Day 4 of the 8-Day course on Cognitive Coaching.  I'm hoping to do the second set of Cognitive Coaching seminars next Spring.  Today's seminar was very timely for me, as having followed the Planning Conversation Map with teachers and assistants over the last couple of months as they have set their goals for this school year, I'm now moving on to reflective conversations and to conducting class observations and giving feedback to support teachers as they work towards their goals.

This morning we watched a lesson and considered different ways we could, as a coach, give feedback to a teacher.  We talked about 5 different forms of feedback, some of which were helpful and some of which were definitely not (and in the case of evaluative feedback would actually get in the way of a teacher making his/her own judgements and conclusions about the lesson).

Evaluative feedback
  • Judgements:  oftentimes a person giving feedback will make judgements about what has been observed.  Even statements like "great lesson" can get in the way of thinking.  The phrase that Bill Powell used when referring to this was some some people can get "addicted to praise" which then leads to a shut down of their own thinking.  In all cases, the anticipation of judgement works against a teacher developing self-directedness.
  • Personal observations:  these are statements that contain the word "I".  For example "I like the way you ....."  These comments are personal to the observer and may not be true for others, and make the coachee reliant on the thinking and feelings of the observer.  If these statements are negative ones, then the most common reaction in the person being observed is defensiveness.
  • Inferences:  these are vague, unclear statements such as "the students learned a lot".  The coachee isn't provoked to think deeper, but often may be left wondering what is meant by the feedback.
Feedback that supports thinking
  • Data:  providing data that is specific, observable, and measurable allows the coachee to make meaning out of the feedback.  As they self-assess against the data that has been collected they become more self directed.
  • Mediative questions: are thought provoking.  These include questions such as "what strategies did you use to ....?", "how did you decide to ....?", "what do you think your students learned about ....?", and "how might the data inform your next steps?"
We spent quite some time talking about data today and how to use data in both the Planning and the Reflecting Conversation Maps.  I'll write more about this in the next blog post.

Photo Credit: Benson Kua via Compfight cc

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