Sunday, January 1, 2012

More Feedback in January

I'm not a big fan of resolutions, but here is one I would like to encourage all of you to get behind. In the month of January, do whatever you can to encourage more feedback in your classrooms and in your childrens' classrooms.

What is feedback?  John Hattie describes it as "providing information how and why the child understands and misunderstands, and what directions the student must take to improve". One of AFL's Six Big Practices, it is sometimes also described as "informing the student how they can close the gap between where they are in their learning to where they need to be". Hattie's research indicates it is the number one factor in classroom learning, more important than any other instructional piece, and more significant even than a student's prior knowledge! What can you do?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Explain it at your next staff meeting
  • Explain it at your next district leadership meeting
  • Email your staff and explain or remind them what feedback is and why it is so important
  • Put "January is Feedback Month" on your staff room board, then speak to each of your colleagues or staff members and explain what that phrase means
  • Go class to class, describe the term to the students, and encourage them to ask for more feedback every day
  • Tell your own children "January is Feedback Month" and encourage them to ask for more feedback about their learning 
  • And, if you are teaching a class yourself, find a way to make one even just one more attempt to give good quality feedback to each student in every block you teach in the month of January

Join me in making January Feedback Month, and do whatever you can to improve the learning in your classrooms.

Want to know more about feedback?
Eddy White Slide Show on Feedback
More research on The Power of Feedback summarized by Hattie and Timperly
Literature Review on Assessment and Feedback by Ooms and van der Sluis
Slide show on Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam


  1. Thank you for the great way you dovetailed Hattie's meta-research and one of the 6 AFL practices together in a such a succinct manner. It is critical that we continue to remind each other of the evidence that feedback improves student learning. Thanks for reminding me to focus on the learning and prompt professionals around me to do the same, especially with such a challenging climate right now in BC. Happy New Year!

  2. Trying to keep the AFL movement going forward, in SD79, the rest of BC, and globally as well. Thank you for the support but especially for the specific FEEDBACK. Cheers, PJ

  3. Good feedback follows from students knowing the criteria for the work they are doing - criteria makes their work tangible to them and all the more so when they have been involved in building that criteria. Then the feedback can really provide the "ah hah" aspect to the students' learning.

  4. Agreed! We have done some some work on developing criteria and the Humanities dept. is doing some more work today. When I was first pondering this idea I thought it best to keep it simple and stick to one AFL big idea at a time, but yes, the better and clearer the criteria is, the more effective feedback will be. However, a teacher can upgrade criteria and give feedback on the fly if need be, and it will still be more helpful than not interacting at all during "practice". Thanks DD.