Teaching Tuesday: Tips for Approaching Feedback and Improving Performance in the Classroom

Mirta Ramirez-Espinola, Ed.D, Faculty, College of Education

Male teacher providing effective and positive feedback to male students in class

Faculty members work with many educators who ask about feedback and how to provide it efficiently and effectively for students to improve academically. Educators understand the usefulness of feedback and its impact and influence on student learning and success. Still, faculty question how to construct feedback tone and framework, which can result in negative or positive perceptions by students.

It is vital to consider how educators offer student feedback. As all students learn differently, educators wonder how to package this valuable information in a non-threatening approach. Educators need to be mindful of how to approach students. Feedback needs to be purposeful and strategic but needs to be wrapped in a kid-friendly package. Encouragement, Mindset and Immediacy are part of that wrapping.

Encouragement as Feedback to Improve Performance

Human beings thrive in environments where words of encouragement are heard. When students receive feedback, educators should consider the words they use to support them. Educators should think about how to use their words. Encouraging words or sentence starts can be utilized when offering constructive feedback.

An opening sentence can start with, “I like how you did _____.” Then, the educator can provide direct input in a positive, upbeat tone. We can conclude with, “Now that you have seen how we can do this,” or “You are constantly improving; good work,” or “This is tough, but you're tougher,” or “You're making a big change, and I'm so proud of you.”

These are some examples, and teachers can create encouraging words to include with feedback.  When feedback is written down, it can be accompanied by a sticker or smiley face or one of the phrases above to promote continuous improvement. Sometimes a short rubric that provides feedback can help students reflect to improve.

Setting a Mindset With Positive Feedback

What is a mindset? A mindset is how an individual keeps a positive and well-intentioned focus, guided by beliefs and feelings which shape and influence the world around us. As teachers, we can model how to learn from our mistakes. Teachers should reiterate that there are no perfect individuals and that all humans have strengths and weaknesses.

Teachers should explain that errors are temporary and can be improved with time and reflection. It is vital that teachers model improvements to their lessons or presentations when the opportunity arises. That way, students see that everyone makes mistakes. Overall, a teacher’s mindset helps set the tone in the classroom.

Moreover, teachers must present a positive mindset while offering feedback to students. Teachers must communicate in non-judgmental tones, practice patience and avoid defeatists’ sighs and frustrated demeanors. Students look at teacher reactions and cues during the learning process.

If necessary, teachers can conduct a one-minute meditation time with students to refocus and set a positive mindset. This meditation time can help foster patience and diminish all parties' frustrations. Teachers and students will appreciate a quick minute to reset and refocus.

Immediacy of Effective Feedback

Teachers must offer students immediate feedback for a greater chance of significant impact to increase student performance. Waiting isn’t optimal, so providing feedback to students immediately will result in more substantial improvement. Teachers can offer input to a small group of students who need similar feedback, but if some students need one-to-one feedback, then a verbal or written type of feedback may be necessary

If time constraints are an issue, include a small and short rubric with the assignment to offer quick and immediate feedback. Teachers can provide feedback during student conferences or small group guided instruction where a teacher can engage in a feedback session. However, instructional feedback can be given before or after school if necessary and lengthy.

When providing feedback, teachers must communicate to students that the information they receive will support their academic goals. Teachers must explain that feedback occurs throughout the learning process and is helpful and non-threatening.

Feedback helps students to reflect and improve academically. It varies in its forms, but overall, it is instructional. However, when more support is needed, feedback is accompanied by resources or additional modeling and extra practice. At any rate, feedback needs to be construed as a positive, and teacher presentation can make all the difference in how students accept it.

Want more? Check out all the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. Learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education and our degree programs and join in our efforts to elevate the education profession.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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