June 2018 Superintendent's Scoop

Superintendent’s Scoop

June 2018

Making a lasting impact in the life of a student is a very rewarding experience. Nearly everyone can name a teacher who has left a positive impression on their life in one-way or another. Students who receive support and encouragement from one-caring adult while in school can improve academic success. Our goal is to have all students feel as though his or her teacher cares about them, believes in them, and leaves a lasting positive impression.

Just like students, teachers need support and positive relationships. One way to provide that support is through instructional coaches. This year an equalization bill was passed by the legislature that helped provide funding toward hiring instructional coaches for each school. The funding for the instructional coach was calculated and allocated according to the school’s student count.

Teachers are lifelong learners always seeking opportunities to grow and searching for ways to become innovative in their classrooms. Instructional coaches work collaboratively with educators and help them become better teachers. They observe teachers teaching, go over instructional data, and model good teaching practices. No matter what age or how long a teacher has been teaching, there is always room for growth and new ideas.

Robert John Meehan said, “The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” Instructional coaches play a support role to teachers. When a teacher inherits the desire to improve and the relationship is built on trust, personalized professional growth for every teacher is possible. Students win in buildings with instructional coaches.

Cheryl Wright, an instructional coach at Washington High School in Kansas City said, “Having the culture of coaching is contagious and can spread to teachers at all levels of the career ladder. If you set it up so people see others benefiting from coaching and succeeding, and they see that the process is grounded in respect, then they [will also] want to try it.”

Our desire is to create a culture of feedback for every aspect of our school district. We know having these new instructional coaches in our schools will provide a bright future for our teachers and students. Teachers will have additional resources to make improvements and provide students with a positive impression–one that hopefully, they will never forget.

Reference:

Kim Greene, ASCD- Every Coach for Every Teacher, March 2018 Volume 60, Number 3

Superintendent's Scoop June 2017

June 2017

Superintendent Scoop

My parents taught me at a young age, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Be, Kind, Specific and Helpful. These are the three basic rules outlined in Ron Berger’s “Austin’s Butterfly” model when critiquing others and specifically when critiquing our peers. Coauthor of Creating a Culture of Feedback, Bill Ferriter said, “When students receive critical feedback on their work or performance, “their gut reaction is to push back against that feedback, to try to defend themselves in some way, shape or form.” This common reaction is a byproduct of the historically evaluative nature of schools. Most feedback given to kids is an assessment of some kind and provided by an authority figure, whether that person is a parent, coach, or a teacher. “We judge everything our students do in a quest for data intervention, and accountability and that’s super unhealthy.” As a result, when students are placed in a peer feedback situation, even if the input they get is constructive, “they’re looking to get out of it as quickly as possible.” Ferrieter believes the best way to head off that “gut reaction” is to strip away any judgment attached to feedback. We need to make sure that kids feel safe and that receiving feedback is a positive experience.

Berger offers three rules for effective peer feedback. These three simple rules are great for parents to keep in mind when critiquing children and are excellent in any situation when constructive communication occurs.

Rule one, “Wording things kindly is not only the right thing to do, but it’s a more effective way to do it.” By using “I” (instead of “you”) statements when giving feedback, students will begin to replicate that kind of inquiry and recognize it as a gentle nudge and personal opinion rather than a global statement that assumes that you’re right about them all.

The second rule of peer critique is that is has to be specific. One reason people tend to provide generic feedback is because they don’t always know what criteria to focus on. Feedback should focus specifically on “any small part of the bigger whole that you’re working in.” When working with students, they need “rich and deep conversations” and plenty of practice to know how to give “thoughtful, specific feedback about one dimension of the work,” says Berger.

The third and final rule of critique is that it has to be helpful. If we provide examples of what helpful critique looks like, students will pick up the language of feedback and they will get better at it over time.

Researcher John Hattie places educator feedback in the top 15 of 195 practices that affect student learning and achievement. In order for feedback to be successful, Hattie argues that it has to be timely and direct. Ron Berger concludes “Once you’ve taught students how to be really strong at peer critique... then [they] will not only do it in formal critique sessions, but they’ll start supporting each other’s work all the time.”  

When giving feedback or critique on something or to someone, we should all strive to remember the basic guidelines. Be Specific, Helpful and above all be Kind. 

McKibben (2017). Peer Feedback Without the Sting. ASCD Education Update, 59(5), 1,4-5.

Superintendent's Scoop July 2017

July 2017

Superintendent Scoop

Be, Kind, Specific and Helpful. These are the three basic rules outlined in Ron Berger’s “Austin’s Butterfly” model when critiquing others and specifically when critiquing our peers. Coauthor of Creating a Culture of Feedback, Bill Ferriter said “When students receive critical feedback on their work or performance, “their gut reaction is to push back against that feedback, to try to defend themselves in some way, shape or form.” The visceral reaction is a byproduct of the evaluative nature of schools. Most feedback that’s given to kids is an assessment of some kind and provided by an authority figure, whether that’s a parent, coach, or a teacher. “We judge everything our students do in a quest for data intervention, and accountability and that’s super unhealthy.” As a result, when students are placed in a peer feedback situation, even if the input they get is constructive, “they’re looking to get out of it as quickly as possible.” Ferrieter believes the best way to head off that “gut reaction” is to strip away any judgment attached to feedback. We need to make sure that kids feel safe and that [peer feedback] is a positive experience.  

“Wording things kindly is not only the right thing to do, but it’s a more effective way to do it.” By using “I” statements when giving feedback, students will begin to replicate that kind of inquiry and recognize it as a gentle nudge and personal opinion rather than a global statement that assumes that you’re right about them all.  

The second rule of peer critique is that is has to be specific. One reason people tend to provide generic feedback is because they don’t always know what criteria to focus on. So feedback should home in on “any small part of the bigger whole that you’re working in.” When working with students, they need “rich and deep conversations” and plenty of practice to know how to give “thoughtful, specific feedback about one dimension of the work,” says Berger.

The third and final rule of critique is that it has to be helpful. If we provide examples of what helpful critique looks like, students will pick up the language of feedback and they will get better at it over time.

Researcher John Hattie places educator feedback in the top 15 of 195 practices that affect student learning and achievement. But for feedback to be successful, Hattie argues that it has to be timely and directive. Ron Berger also stated that “ Once you’ve taught students how to be really strong at peer critique–how to focus on one dimension of the work; how to be kind, specific, and helpful; how to push people the right amount–then kids will not only do it in formal critique sessions, but they’ll start supporting each other’s work all the time.” With the fear of judgment eliminated, “kids will be sitting at tables with other kids and [freely] leaning in to give critique.”

I encourage everyone when giving feedback or critique on something or to someone, that you remember the basic guidelines. Be Specific, Helpful and above all be Kind.

Inspire the mind, create a passion for learning, educate for success in life.


Sevier School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs. Please contact your school principal for further information.