The Best Feedback is GATHERED, not GIVEN

All y’all know that I’ve been completely consumed by reimagining the role that feedback should play in the modern classroom, right?  I’ve been reading darn near everything written by experts like Dylan Wiliam, Grant Wiggins, John Hattie, Rick Stiggins, Jan Chappuis, Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey.  More importantly, I’ve been tinkering with the feedback practices in my classroom for the better part of the past four years.

If there’s any single thought that holds together the key findings of all of these folks, it’s that the best feedback is GATHERED, not GIVEN:

(click here to view and download original image on Flickr)

Slide - Gathered By Filled

Here’s why:  When we reverse the traditional roles that teachers and learners play in the classroom feedback cycle, we are helping our students to recognize that the people who are the MOST successful in our world AREN’T those who can take critique from a boss and adjust their actions/behaviors/work products accordingly.

The MOST successful people in our world are constantly critiquing THEMSELVES.  They are identifying meaningful goals worth pursuing, looking for exemplars to measure their own performances against, setting criteria for determining success, measuring their own progress, and constantly adjusting their goals, their decisions, their actions and their direction on the fly.

To borrow a related thought from Mortimer Adler, author of The Paideia Proposal:

All genuine learning is active, not passive.  It involves the use of the mind, not just the memory.  It is a process of discovery, in which the student is the main agent, not the teacher.

So ask yourself this:  How often is the feedback process that you are using with students active and not passive?  How often does it turn your students into the main agents in a process of discovery, using their minds to create meaning and find sense in their own patterns of performance?



Related Radical Reads:

New Feedback Activity:  Unit Analysis Forms

New Feedback Activity:  Not Yet/You Bet Lists

New Feedback Activity: The Best Feedback is a Work For/Work On Process

5 thoughts on “The Best Feedback is GATHERED, not GIVEN

  1. Pingback: The REAL Feedback Experts in Your Building |

  2. teachmoore

    Bill, this post really grabbed me when I saw it; I think what you’re learning as you work through this area is really profound–and yet so very basic to what we do. Teaching and learning is, after all, human beings communicating and sharing with each other. Sometimes we get so caught up in the technicalities of teaching (I’m thinking of the “Feedback Loop” comment to your piece in the Collaboratory), that we forget we are simply human beings and so are our students–people who want their ideas to be heard, respected; and we show that respect best by responding honestly to the ideas and efforts they share with us. I’m learning a lot from your series of pieces on this topic, and as always, rethinking what I do in my own work. Thanks.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Renee,

      Believe me: I’m learning just as much as I think through all of this stuff! It’s been a great experience/moment of study/bit of deep reflection for me, that’s for sure.

      Can you tell that it’s my National Board Renewal year?!

      Guess what one of my PGEs is going to be?!

      Hope you are well. Always love your voice.

      Rock on,

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Mike —

      Check out the activities linked in the “Related Radical Reads” section at the bottom of the post.

      Hope this helps,

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