*For more insights from education leaders on teacher and student learning, head over to the Edthena blog.
Watch this #PLtogether Lounge Talk with Doug Reeves about why teachers and students both benefit from more timely and specific feedback on assessments with multiple tries.
You can find the full transcript below:
– Welcome back to this PL Together Lounge Talk. If you’re just joining us, I’m Adam Geller founder and CEO of Edthena, where we build video and AI powered tools for teacher professional learning. Today we’re talking with the bestselling education leadership author, Doug Reeves. Doug, thanks for being with us.
– My pleasure.
– So, Doug, we’ve been talking about the 5 C’s from your book, and there’s a quote from your book I wanted to talk with you about. It’s you say, “Our students are looking to us as grownups in the room to model what it looks like to belong, believe, and balance high expectations with compassionate support.” So I want to ask you to actually shift that and tell me how can school leaders model the 5 C’s for their teachers within the professional learning experiences that they’re designing?
– Well, I’ll tell you what. High expectations of kids only happens when there’s high expectations of teachers. And I am worried that there is a concern and let me just apply this to parents as well, that there is a great concern that if we have high expectations that will be too stressful for students. So as I always try to do let me honor other scholars in the field. Kelly McGonigal, a Stanford psychology professor, wrote this fabulous book called, “The Upside of Stress”. And what she says is, when we have high expectations and then we withdraw from them because, oh, we’re afraid, that’ll make them too anxious, that will stress them out. It does not help children. Now, I admit there is such a thing as toxic and debilitating stress, but there’s the other 95% of stress that is actually highly useful. Our job as teachers is to help students be able to use stress to function in society, to function at higher grade levels, to function in college, in the workplace. And I’m very concerned that too often we have avoided that stress or we even think as parents and teachers our job is to avoid stress. That does not help students. High expectations will involve students making mistakes. High expectations will involve students feeling, oh, I failed at this. And our job is to make them resilient, to bounce back from failure and defeat. The number one thing we can do is to have such a psychologically safe environment that our students can bounce back. It’s not to protect them from stress.
– And so in thinking about those kind of professional learning experiences, maybe what are some positive versions of stress that could be modeled through high expectations for the educators to experience that virtual stress?
– I’m smiling because you ask a straight question, you get a straight answer. You were kind enough to mention in the introduction that I’ve written a lot of books and a lot of articles, but I can tell you I’ve never had the first draft of anything accepted. So one of the things specifically that we can do is never have a one-shot assessment, never have a one-shot paper. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that for my own students you can’t get more than half credit on your first draft. I don’t care if you’re the valedictorian. Teachers work too hard at giving feedback to have that feedback ignored. And the only way you know that the feedback is gonna be used is to have the work resubmitted. And so I always encourage people to have fewer assessments, fewer assignments, but each one of them submitted more than once. So that teacher feedback is respected and students get used to taking feedback. I will also tell you that I wrote this article about what colleges need now. I interviewed college teachers saying, what do we need to do to end students to you with confidence and success? The number one thing they said is send us students who can take feedback. ‘Cause they’re tired of having these honor roll students never had to rewrite a paper, never had to redo a lab report. And then in October of their first year of college they’re told to redo something. And they don’t say, “Oh, thanks professor for that feedback.” They call their mother, they call their lawyer, they call their therapist, ’cause they’ve never had to redo anything. So seriously, Adam, what we gotta do is have kids be resilient by accepting and responding to feedback.
– And as you think about, you know advising school leaders about how that would play out with the teachers in their building, so maybe less about the students, but how can they model that, let’s say multi-shot approach when it comes to giving feedback to teachers?
– Well, exactly. I think you’ve nailed the analogy. The feedback that we give to teachers is directly analogous to the feedback that teachers give to students. For example, what I always ask school leaders to do is don’t start talking about feedback at grading systems. Start talking about what do you as adults, what’s your best experience in receiving feedback? And every time they’ll say, well, we want feedback that’s fair. We want feedback that’s accurate. We want feedback that’s specific. Tell us how to get better and timely. What we loathe and teachers really hate this is when an administrator comes in and then 90 days later gives them feedback that they could have used 89 days before, or they sandbag them and give them feedback in May when they could have used it in October. So teachers know intuitively, when I’m on the receiving end of feedback, what I want my administrator to do. Once you’ve established that fair, accurate, specific timely, I use the acronym, FAST. Once we know that that’s what we as adults expect, then we ought to say, well, what does that mean for the feedback that we give to students? So I think your analogy is perfect. Whatever we expect as adults is what we deserve to provide to our students.
– Well, Doug, we’re gonna take a short break. If you are interested in what we talk about next or everyone else that’s been interviewed as part of PL Together, head to pltogether.org for the rest of this and many more. Thanks, Doug.