As teachers, we constantly give and receive feedback while working with students. However, receiving feedback and teaching students to receive feedback can sometimes cause us to bristle. Like our students, we say we want to learn and grow, but there are times for all of us when receiving feedback is just plain challenging. Stone & Heen explain the challenge: “Receiving feedback sits at the intersection of two needs – our drive to learn and our longing for acceptance” (2015, p.8). Therefore, just as we practice and model taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from failure for our students, we must practice and model receiving feedback.
Feedback is just information. It is a snapshot in time of where we are in our learning and our progress growing into the people we are meant to be. Feedback comes in an abundance of forms. Whether it is the honk of a horn letting us know the light is green, our pants being uncomfortably snug after a fabulous trip to New York, the bewildered looks on students’ faces when they don’t yet understand the distributive property, or the most recent results from a spelling assessment, this is all feedback. Throughout our daily lives, we are constantly receiving feedback. Therefore it is vital we learn, practice, and teach how to receive feedback effectively. The real power in feedback comes in clearly understanding the feedback, reflecting on the information, reflecting on your reaction to the information, and finally deciding how to use that information.
In preparations for student-led conferences and learning how to reflect on feedback, my class read Julia Cook’s Thanks for the Feedback (2013). Through this picture book, we were all reminded of the various forms of feedback and guided on ways to receive feedback. Students thoughtfully discussed how compliments, appreciation, and correct answers are often easier to receive. Then my children truly surprised me in conversations that demonstrated their understandings of receiving, reflecting, and implementing constructive criticism as essential to learning. Together my students and I brainstormed a list of suggestions for receiving feedback. The list sits at the front of the room to remind all of us the importance in learning to receive feedback. This important reminder is just as important for me, as it is for my students.
Learner, Thinker, Writer: Mary Jacob Harris (@maryjacobr) serves the Trinity School community as a Third Grade Lead Teacher.
Cook, Julia. (2013). Thanks for the Feedback. Boys Town, NE: Boys Town Press.
Stone, D. & Heen, S. (2015). Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. New York, NY: Penguin Books.