Feedback’s a B

I’m plugging my way through Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston and quite a few chapters are on feedback, praise, criticism, and dialogue with students.

As you probably know, my love language is words of affirmation.  I love affirming and I love being affirmed.  I have taken such pride in the positive reinforcement that I use with my students.  I take pride in the feedback and the conversations that I have with my students.

Johnston writes about the differences between person oriented feedback and process oriented feedback.  I can make little tweaks in my comments to make them more effective for my students and to create a greater sense of agency.  A comment such as, “You did such a great job, Nate!” can be much more effective by saying, “I really like the way you used a feeling in your conclusion, Nate!” It takes the focus off of Nate and puts it on his process of writing.  I can do that.  I can do that easily! He also talks about the effects of praise and if we should praise at all.  He makes some good points and I’m willing to try replacing the praise (ie: awesome job!) with positive feedback and see if it works in my classroom.

The other thing that stuck with me is the visualization of the class Johnston writes about in chapter 5.  The students and the teacher are sitting around in a circle discussing a story about Jackie Robinson.  The teacher is truly facilitating the discussion and encouraging her students to take part in the conversation between each other.  I’ve been working on this during my small group lit circles and this is just the motivation that I needed to keep at it.  I love being part of the discussion, but they (the students) don’t need me to lead it any longer.  They can lead it for themselves!

I’m excited to teach tomorrow.

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2 comments

  1. I really admire the way that you are jumping right in to tackle this change in feedback that Johnston talks about! When I read these chapters, I felt a little bit overwhelmed because I have always grown up in a fixed-performance frame. But you are totally right that this is not that hard! It will just take a daily change in mindset on feedback. The more we practice this change, the more second-nature it will become. I’m excited to keep taking baby steps to get to this!

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  2. Jaymie, I love your enthusiasm in this post! When I read these chapters, I (admittedly) kind of beat myself up for the praise and affirmation I give. I am all about high-fiving excellent responses, “good job”ing so many great things, and saying “I love…” about 100 times per day. Naturally, in reading this chapter I did a face palm and got mad at myself for not realizing how ineffective this could be. I love how you focused on the small changes you could make to productively affect your feedback, without compromising your love language. That helped me view those changes as doable and easily changeable, too. I also can’t wait to hear how your student-led book clubs continue to go! I wonder if you will make any changes or do anything differently with them. I’d love to hear! Thanks for this great post 🙂

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