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.

Superintendent's Scoop July 2016 - Bond/Voted Leeway Update

Superintendent’s Bond/Voted Leeway Update – July 2016

 

June of 2013, the citizens of Sevier County passed both a bond election and voted leeway. Voter

turnout was considered high through a mail-in ballot, and support for both the bond and leeway

was considerable. Since that time, school board members, district administrators, teachers, and

district staff have been working hard to implement what was proposed to the voters during the

presentation and hearing processes of the election. As promised in the bond and leeway

presentations, Sevier School District is addressing significant needs that will provide students

with a great educational opportunity while providing a fair and equitable value to taxpayers.

 

1. Richfield High School Replacement Project: The timeline for the new Richfield High

School is on target and the final phase of construction is nearing completion. It is

anticipated that the project will be fully complete this October. The project is being

funded through the bond. For updates and photos of the project see www.seviersd.org

 

2. North and South Sevier Roof Replacements and Band Rooms: Both of these projects

will be fully complete within the coming weeks. The bond is also funding these projects.

Other proposed projects included in the 10-year building plan include: major renovations

and replacements to South Sevier Middle School and a major renovation to the North

Sevier Middle School gymnasium.

 

3. School Safety and Resource Officers: Thanks to an agreement between Sevier County

and Sevier School District, four resource officers are now in place in each of the major

attendance areas of Sevier School District. The officers began fulltime on January 1, 2014,

and the program has been a tremendous success. Emergency response times, 911 panic

buttons, and student-law enforcement relationships are a few of the many benefits of the

program. The Sevier School District portion of the costs related to school resource officers

and security updates have come through the voted leeway.

 

4. Technology Improvements: (Waiting for Chet 6-23-16)

 • Leeway funding has helped improve infrastructure by upgrading switches, battery

  backups, and access points throughout the district. This funding has also made possible

  the purchase of an additional wireless controller. These upgrades and additional

  equipment have helped provide a more stable and reliable network in all schools.

 • The school district is continuing to update and maintain the security camera systems in all

  schools.

 • Sevier School District currently has over 2000 Chromebooks and 1200 iPads in service for

  student use. An additional 600 Chromebooks will be deployed next month. All teacher

  desktop computers have been updated beginning a five-year replacement cycle. Other

  devices that will be upgraded/replaced/added this year include: projectors, interactive

  boards, document cameras, and other equipment to provide up-to-date and adequate

  computer access and abilities for lab and activity group work in chemistry, physics,

  robotics and earth science classes.

 • A technology trainer/director has been hired to assist teachers and district staff in

  fulfilling the vision of enhanced programs targeted toward student success and support.

  With 3 full-time technicians, support and weekly visits to each of the 13 schools in the

  district is a reality. Work order response time/resolution have been greatly reduced.

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.