Forced feedback or found feedback?


One of the it words of education today and probably something most educators around the world seem to agree about – that feedback impacts learning. But I wonder if our obsession with feedback has us so focused on the potential impact of feedback, that we are forgetting to question the context and conditions of that feedback.

This tweet from @justintarte provoked my thinking about this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.22.12 AM

Are we forcing our feedback upon students or are we empowering students to own their learning and find feedback in order to help themselves grow and improve?

This got me thinking about training I received last year to become an instructional coach for teachers. The biggest takeaway from the course was that instructional coaching needed to be optional in order to be most effective. Teachers needed to seek out a coach by choice because feedback for their teaching was more powerful and impactful when it was something they were looking for on their own accord. Something done by them, not something done to them.

…gathered, not given.

…found, not forced.

This means the difference between a coach scheduling a meeting with a teacher and telling them “here is what you need to do in order to get better” and a teacher requesting a meeting with a coach and asking them “what can I do to get better?”

So if we acknowledge and protect that for adult-learners, why are we not doing the same for child-learners?

As teachers, are we scheduling a conference with students and telling them “here is what you need to do in order to get better” unsolicited? Or are we empowering students and creating conditions where students request conferences with teachers (and beyond)  so they can ask “what can I do to get better?”

If we believe that feedback is most effective when sought out by the learners themselves, the question for educators then needs to move away from “Are you giving your students feedback?” and towards “How are you empowering your students to understand the purpose and process of gathering feedback?”

7 thoughts on “Forced feedback or found feedback?

  1. Adam Hill August 13, 2016 / 1:09 am

    Another great post, Taryn!

    Once again, you have got me thinking and questioning my own practice. Exactly what I want from reading blogs!

    It’s interesting that you connect adult learning to child learning. It’s not the first time that you have done this on your blog and it just goes to show that we’re not so different from the kids. Learning is learning and good practice can often be applied to all learners.




    • tbondclegg August 13, 2016 / 8:28 pm

      Hey Adam, This is a new way of thinking for me too! I’ve always forced feedback upon my learners and I am just now realizing that it is probably more authentic and powerful for autonomous students to own their own learning and seek out feedback from myself, peers or others. I’m excited to try it out and see what comes of it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. learningtowearthebigshoes March 3, 2017 / 9:30 am

    This will be of huge benefit to our learners next year as we develop responsibility and efficacy for learning. Both adult learners and younger learners will need some changing of mindset – to ensure the learner is the one seeking feedback – learning together.


  3. Yvonne Thomson August 31, 2017 / 3:03 am

    Thank you for another stimulating post Taryn! Your post also got me reflecting on my own practice and whether feedback is forced or found. As I think about it, how would you reach those students who do not seek feedback from you or their peers?


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