Feedback that Feeds Forward  

May 18, 2015
Throughout the year, I have had the opportunity to facilitate Adolescent Literacy Project Learning Walks in three ESU 10 School Districts: Broken Bow, Loup City, and Northwest. I have spent 25 days in these school districts observing teachers implementing strategies they have learned from our training series. I want to commend these administrators and teachers for attending our trainings but more importantly for implementing new strategies into their classrooms.

I am completing my eighth year at ESU 10 this July which means I have been out of the classroom for a while now. The learning walk process allows me to stay up-to-date on what instructional strategies are working and which ones teachers find more challenging to implement with their students. I enjoy watching how the students react to their teachers trying various engagement, vocabulary, comprehension, and text discussion strategies. Growth has been occurring in each of these school districts and engaged classrooms have been the result.

The most powerful element of the learning walk process is the feedback that teachers give and receive. Dr. Kevin Feldman facilitated a training focused on comprehension strategies on January 27th for our Adolescent Literacy Project workshop series. At that training, he coined a phrase that I have connected with, “Feedback that Feeds Forward”. My interpretation of this message is that administrators, teachers, and ESU 10 Teaching and Learning Staff need to give specific feedback to our colleagues that help them take action to improve their teaching practices. We can no longer be satisfied with comments like “good job” or “you need to improve”. These vague comments do not communicate what specific action was quality or needs to change.

One of the areas in which I am most proud of the teachers and administrators in the Adolescent Literacy Project is that they are learning to give better feedback. I have observed teachers shifting their comments from ones of general praise and guidance to specific, timely, and relevant suggestions for improving teacher practice. In two of the three districts, video-taping the learning walk lesson is now an expectation. Teachers are asked to review their learning walk tools they receive from colleagues and watch their lesson video to self-reflect on their strengths and areas to grow. To me effective schools are focused on: collaboration, feedback, and growth. I feel fortunate that these ESU 10 districts have invited me in to witness their administrator, teacher, and student growth.

ESU 10 Teaching and Learning Coordinators are in the process of meeting with school administrators in the Adolescent Literacy Project to discuss how we can assist them in sustaining the project in their school district. We are committed to this initiative and providing school districts feedback so they can feed forward.

-by Denise O'Brien, Teaching and Learning Director

Feldman, K. (Director) (2015, January 27). Extended Discussion, Text Meaning, and Comprehension Strategies. Adolescent Literacy Project Year 1 Day 3. Lecture conducted from Educational Service Unit 10, Kearney.