Feedback is an essential element of teaching. Teachers and students give it in every move we make. It’s implicit in our actions. So I do my best to notice how kids approach a problem; how they sit as they read or write. And then ask questions about it. In the hopes of understanding and offering opportunities for them to understand their practice, their successes, and their struggles. But with a big classroom, those one-on-one moments just can’t happen enough. So when a kiddo offers explicit, unsolicited feedback, in the midst of the work, I am amazed. And I take note.
Last week I asked students to work on math problems on their own.”Just for me to see where you are in this work.” I could tell from their body language, and general unrest this was hard. Feedback received. But when I looked over their work, I got more.
By looking at her answers, which were correct, I would have assumed she “got it.” But with her self-designated “hardness level,” she gave me feedback I would have missed. And it made me wonder, what else am I missing?
I ask explicit questions about our classroom and the work. But am I asking the right questions, and are their being asked at the right times? With her response to the task, it made me realize that this is something that needs to be honored and included. Kids have things to say all the time. I need a manageable and meaningful way of soliciting it.
Next time and every time I ask students to “show me where they are in the work” I’ll add this prompt: Hardness level? Simple and naturally differentiated.
Just one example of what my student taught me this week.