This was an idea from "The Daily Prompt" that WordPress sends out to inspire blogging. I was curious. The instructions were to go to the WordPress Reader, choose the third blog from the top and then choose the third sentence in the blog post and work it into a post.
So, I followed the instructions and the third blog in my reader was Royan Lee’s Spicy Learning Blog. This is a good choice. His most recent blogpost derailed the process for a bit. I had to read it twice. It’s another terrific effort from Royan and I would encourage everyone to take a read. The post is entitled "The Impact of Culture on Feedback".
In the course of the post, he reflects on it being "oral, written, modelled, or woven inextricably into the learning and conversations". At so many levels he nails it.
But, back to the prompt. I’m supposed to take the third sentence and use it. His third sentence is:
"This is not necessarily because embedded feedback is difficult in and of itself."
This caused me to reflect on the various feedbacks that I’ve experienced in my teaching career.
- On my first day of teaching, the school gave us our yearly collection of supplies – one blue BIC pen and one red BIC pen;
- In year one, I used to interview students when they would submit a program for marking (Computer Science) and I would ask them to make one or more modification(s) just to see if they understood the code they were submitting. Beyond the course work, it was also an opportunity to determine where students’ interests and passions lay;
- There was the first dreaded Parent/Teacher night. I stayed awake every night the week before the night writing notes to myself so that I could talk intelligently about each student. This was my first rude awakening that parents didn’t care because Computer Science was an optional subject – they came to talk to the English, Math, and Science teachers – you know, the important subjects. I remember the number 12 as the number of parents I met that night – I think I had a total of 168 students that year;
- My first set of report cards were hand written! The library was closed for about a week and the raw reports were laid out on tables and we had to head down during lunch or before/after school, find the reports and then handwrite a numeric grade and add a comment;
- In subsequent years, we breathed a sigh of relief when the report cards were computerized. (Not for us but for the secretary). We got printouts where we entered a number and chose a comment to include from a numbered list of comments; (You had to double check to make sure that you didn’t get the two of them mixed up…)
- After we complained, we got to attach an additional sheet of anecdotal comments to the formal report card to give better feedback;
- As a consultant, a marvelous group of six and I got to implement a new revision to the Ontario Report Card, elementary and secondary. We went through many, many versions and updates of software, had massive professional development sessions, many noodle scratching support sessions working with teachers who had every permutation of computer at home and wished to do their work both at home and at school. Where was that darned cloud then?
- One of the biggest changes came along with the advent of online learning. We were taking students into courses from all over the province and the feedback had to become electronic. This brought a purposeful use to podcasting, video conferencing, screencasting, document sharing/commenting.
Throughout the progression, it seems to me that all of these technologies focused on getting the job done. Each has a promise of making things easier (really?) and there are many people that take to the technologies to make it hop and others use the technology grudgingly as a job requirement, and then there are the folks all along the scale in between. We’ve come a long way since that red BIC pen.
And yet, juxtaposing this short historical timeline with Royan’s post reveals that we’re not done. Is the race to use technology to provide feedback for reports, assignments, daily work, citizenship doing a sufficient job communicating? Not by a long shot.
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