Don’t Forget That Feedback: A Back to School Tip for Teachers

Lonnie Monka Lonnie Monka / August 31, 2017 / Classroom, Teaching Tips

As we, at Knovva Academy, continue developing our blended learning courses for various schools, we see how much teachers are excited about the new school year. Between new students, and the inherent pleasure in all beginnings, this is a stimulating time in the yearly education cycle. Since it’s time to get back to school, we wanted to harness the fresh energy of a new year of learning by suggesting that all teachers take the time to focus on an often overlooked subject: feedback!

Imagine a world with no feedback. We would do our jobs, and then our peers would only tell us that we succeeded or didn’t. No in-depth thoughts or suggestions. Stuck within the dichotomy of “yes” or “no”, or “pass” or “fail”, self-improvement seems unguided -- perhaps even impossible.

One program addressing the need to evaluate and improve teacher feedback is the Measure Effective Teaching (MET) Program. MET is run and sponsored by one of America’s most famous and successful businessmen, Bill Gates. The inspiration to initiate this program stemmed from Gates’ belief that the key for successfully improving teachers’ educational abilities is feedback.

The Need for Feedback

In a TedTalk, Gates points out that according to international standardized tests for basic literacy, the U.S. is tied with Poland and Iceland for the 15th place worldwide! This ranking suggests that U.S. educators should be looking at other countries’ methods as models to be emulated. He continues to note that #1 in the world for not only literacy, but also math and science is Shanghai, China. He claims that this impressive ranking is the product of the institutionalized methods for feedback in Chinese schools.

At its core, MET utilizes technology to produce effective feedback. Teachers begin participating in the program by recording videos of their own lessons, and then watching and commenting on their colleagues’ videos. By recording themselves, these teachers have the opportunity to witness what actually happens in their lessons -- a kind of objective view. This act of facing oneself through a recording improves the teacher’s capacity for positive self-critique. MET, then, compiles these videos, and the program assists the teachers by providing feedback, and collecting examples of successful teaching practices. Thanks to the amazing resources provided by MET, teachers and school administrators have access to cutting-edge tools for providing, and improving effective feedback.

Working with many schools, we, at Knovva Academy, know how much teachers want to improve, as well as integrate blended-learning techniques into their teaching. Unfortunately, resources and administrative support do not always match these teachers’ drives. Whether or not teachers want to try out MET, understanding this program raises the awareness of the need for feedback, and offers some ideas that teachers can implement on their own.

The Back to School Challenge

With the beginning of the new school year, we challenge teachers to try to make some positive changes. Record and review your class. Try to set open discussions with your peers about positive support and potential new techniques to be integrated into your classrooms. Author Grant Wiggins, writing in Education Leadership lays out seven key steps to help make this beginning count!

About Knovva:  

Founded by impassioned educators, Knovva Academy prepares students for the 21st century using innovative technology along with experiential learning to teach teens about the world while helping them acquire skills for their future. Our mission is to enhance educational opportunities for students on a global scale through partnerships with prestigious schools, leading businesses, and local communities.