*For more insights about supporting teachers, head over to the Edthena blog.
Watch this #PLtogether Lounge Talk with Amy Tepper and Patrick Flynn about why coaches and school leaders must stay intentional in giving teachers regular feedback.
You can find the full transcript below:
– Welcome to another PLtogether Lounge Talk. I’m Adam Geller, founder and CEO of Edthena, the video-powered professional learning company focused on helping teachers get better at teaching. Today we’re talking with Amy Tepper and Patrick Flynn, the co-authors and also members of the organization, Tepper and Flynn. They’re the co-authors of multiple books including their recent book, “Learner-Focused Feedback: “19 strategies to Observe for Impact”. Patrick and Amy, thanks so much for being part of PLtogether.
– Thank you Adam.
– Thanks, Adam.
– So I want to talk about feedback, but I wanna talk about it in kind of the right now way. You know, I think if you open any newspaper, you see the kind of zeitgeist of schools and I think we know what’s actually happening in schools. It is a hectic, stressed feeling, challenging time, a lot of demands. Why is feedback still important enough that we’re going to prioritize it when all these things are pulling us in all these other directions? Amy, maybe let’s start with you.
– You’re right. There are a million things happening in our buildings right now. I think feedback can be a glue of sorts because through feedback we can support wellbeing, we can support adult SEL, we can support teachers in taking risks, being a very valuable second set of eyes in very challenging situations that teachers are facing. We, we also, something we’ve really been driving in our work in schools this past year has been about driving and understanding of connections, how single actions can unite and have a lot of impacts on a lot of different outcomes that you’re seeking, and then being able to connect priorities. So we have buildings right now who are focused on new math programs and science of reading. Oh, hey, what about the mental health crisis that we’re dealing with? And still, you know, dysregulation and disengaged students. So feedback is this glue that can allow teachers to pull actions together that can support multiple priorities that we’re seeking, but also allow them to grow and feel like they’re effective. You know, that is a killer of efficacy and wellbeing.
– I love this idea of glue. And in my mind, I’m trying to picture all the places where the glue might be because it could be among the priorities for the teacher and their interactions with their students. It could be between that classroom and the school priorities. It could be between classroom to classroom. So, you know, maybe Patrick, take us more down that path of kind of, what does it mean for feedback to be the glue and why, aside from glue bonding things together, you know, again, like things are pulling apart right now or feel like they’re pulling apart, how is feedback gonna help us in a system way?
– Yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the things we talk about is a three-legged stool relative to feedback, is that, you know, if you really wanna have an impact on students, ensuring that classroom observations are formative and informing both the professional learning structures as well as those increasing conversations so that it does become very much an ongoing cycle of dialogue about instruction. Because we still know that even in this everything that is going on, it is that dialogue about instruction and getting people into those really powerful conversations about what impact they are having and how they are having it, it is that that starts to build towards that collective efficacy that Amy’s kind of, you know, describing as the glue. It is us bringing feedback as that centerpiece, I think. Well, what’s really important to also consider is that study after study continues to show that feedback is desired. It’s one of those things, especially among Generation Y, Generation Z, which is the up and coming generations of our staffing inside our schools. They’re looking for more frequent, very informative feedback that’s gonna drive what they’re doing. So I think we have to continuously consider the fact that if people are wanting that feedback and asking for that feedback, we’ve gotta be able to support it. But make sure that once again, it’s feeding cycles of dialogue, conversation, commitment, and really building towards a learning that’s not only centered on one person giving feedback, but multiple people giving each other feedback, which I think is really a powerful component to that collective efficacy.
– Can I draw one more connection too? I think that’s so huge in terms of efficacy and what teachers are seeking. I think two things that feedback can provide is empowerment. And we are in the middle of years now of a complete lack of control and any predictability. And so anytime that someone can help a teacher understand and own some part of the outcome in a classroom or own how to respond to what kids are bringing through that classroom door, that’s empowering and that is a trauma-informed priority. You know, and I think that that is something that even a 10-minute conversation can ensure for a teacher when done well.
– One thing that really stuck out to me here is, you know, I think so often we talk about the value of feedback in the academic, the study ’cause you said the study, is then the next, you know, set of words are about, you know, what helps teachers make and sustain changes, what impacts student outcomes, and what stuck out to me there was this opportunity to lift up the teacher need and desire in this moment. You know, wow, what a good reason to be giving feedback. Yes, it can lead to positive outcomes for students, but also it’s what the teachers are telling us that they want. So, you know, let’s talk about, and maybe not the why but the how in a context where we do feel like we have less time, you know, what are some tools that leaders that are designing mechanisms for feedback can make it more efficient? You know, I know I have a few, but I’ll ask you guys, you know, what are you seeing or recommending to kind of make it easy and time-saving for the teacher as well as the educators that are supporting them?
– I think one of the processes that we use with the principals as well as the instructional leaders or teacher leaders that we work with as well as instructional coaches is the idea that there are multiple types of feedback. Feedback doesn’t have to be some lengthy, you know, treaties on what it is that’s happening completely within your classroom or comprehensively in your classroom all the time. There should be moments where that occurs. But instead that those short opportunities to what we call a firm practice and a firm impact on students to be able to identify and highlight strength-based, but also offer wonders about what it is that could be happening inside the classroom or what is happening inside the classroom, those become very quick hits, and we have, you know, the opportunity to walk into a classroom in five minutes, maybe 10 minutes, see what’s happening and leave that sticky note behind that says, here’s the impact I saw you having. And that affirmation is a very powerful tool in building, it’s a quick hit, in building that teacher’s efficacy towards the type of classrooms that they’re trying to create.
– And I think critical two is a couple of shifts that we’ve really encouraged is one is aligning to a teacher’s goals. So it’s very targeted. It’s very meaningful to the teacher. And then aligning to really bite-size actionable next steps. We had a teacher just come up to us the other day and say, someone told me I needed equity sticks. What does that mean? I said, well, tell me the context. Well, how did they suggest it? It just said I need equity sticks. That’s not actionable. We’re not building any understanding of impact to understand why they might have suggested equity sticks. So we talked it out. But I think the other third important piece that you can accomplish on a sticky and a 10-minute visit is that you can also help link, teachers need so much help being able to integrate academic, social, emotional and behavioral learning in a lesson versus these advisory standalone. So anytime you can create feedback that gives them, hey, it’s not only going to affect instruction, it’s affecting this competency, this social, emotional need in your classroom. And lastly, I think your platform is such a rich addition to a school’s tools and resources. We’re always looking for effective and efficient methods. And so if you have someone coming in, giving a quick hit of feedback aligned to goals, we become the voice in the head for a reflective practitioner to then go and watch themselves. Start with watch yourself. That’s where we always have to start before we’re willing to share with someone else. But we start to be able to, a common understanding of what we’re looking for when we do this consistently in a building. So when they jump on a platform like yours, now you’ve got a whole team who is looking for the same things and willing to share ideas in bite-size pieces.
– Well, it’s almost like you teed up the need for break there, Amy, because what I had next for us to talk about in our next segment was being a reflective practitioner. So if that is intriguing for anyone watching this video, head to pltogether.org for the rest of what we’re going to talk about as well as many more conversations. Amy and Patrick, thanks so much for being part of PLtogether.
– Thanks Adam.
– Thanks Adam.