great teachers

3 Ways Outside Feedback is Helpful

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for Students, Teachers and Parents

While the purpose of The Graide Network is to promote greater connectivity throughout the educational community, the main way we achieve that is thorough, meaningful outside feedback on student work.  This feedback, though aimed at students, has the ability to offer incredible insights for teachers and parents as well. Here are three reasons why feedback from a qualified third party is helpful for students, teachers and parents.

1. Objective

In an ideal world, students and student learning would be judged on their merits. But we are all affected by biases, decision fatigue (ouch!), ego depletion, low glucose levels, etc. Is it possible that just one person can determine a child’s grade? With limited knowledge of the teacher and learners and without wonky political incentives, the feedback provided by our “Graiders” is truly objective.  It’s easy to see how this can be encouraging to all parties.  Students and parents can feel assured that the work is being judged impartially, while teachers can be opened up to potential blind spots in their grading as well as different learning styles or student thought processes.  Many of the teachers from our spring pilot noted that the feedback provided informed their future assignments and instruction.

2. Thorough

At a time when more and more teachers are faced with overcrowded classrooms, the idea of providing thorough feedback for each individual student can be jarring.  Many teachers simply don’t have time to provide as thorough of feedback as they would like on each assignment.  Our Graiders not only have the time to give more comprehensive feedback, but also the desire to lighten teachers’ rapidly growing workloads.  The Graide Network assures teachers, students, and parents that more than adequate time is spent grading each assignment, preventing rushed or overlooked evaluations.

3. Speed

Teachers are frequently delayed in returning papers because of their heavy workloads. Often, by the time students have their work returned to them, they have completely disengaged from the assignment.  In the heat of the school year, students and their parents tend to focus on the next project, while feedback from the last regularly goes overlooked. Response times as close to real-time as possible benefit everyone:  teachers can give more in-depth assignments without worrying about the time they would have to spend grading, students can review their feedback with the assignment still fresh in mind, and parents can ask timely questions on individual assignments.

Graiders, the extra set of eyes that The Graide Network provides, look out for the best educational interests of both educators and learners by providing objective, thorough, and fast feedback.

Have feedback on our thoughts on feedback? Would love to hear it!

Making Education Personal

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As a rising senior at Burlington High, I have begun the nostalgic act of reflecting over my years in school. From an early age I have invested myself firmly into my education, taking responsibility for my courses and my academic achievement, as well as curiously observing and noting periods of great academic success and struggle. What informed my successes or struggles, I discovered, was relative to the classroom environment I was in. I quote John Dewey, the late educational reformer who pioneered work in progressive education, as he so accurately asserts, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” Dewey vitalizes the gravity of education in the context of life. He develops the idea that education is more than assessments and acquisition of knowledge, yet is active inquiry and participation, realization of potential, and personal development. Education is active and dynamic. I ask, then, why are we teaching so statically?

Learning is a largely intimate endeavor. While it requires both community and self, learning is an enterprise which affects the student on a personal level, ultimately requiring an individual experience for holistic development. The educational environments in which I flourished fostered creativity, adventure, and passion, while inspiring development, personal triumph, and diversity. I was encouraged to construct, to actively interact with my curriculum within the context of the given subject matter. I was perpetuated to question, to discover, to challenge, and to satisfy my innermost queries. I later learned this is called personalized learning. It was here, in these classrooms, in these “personal laboratories”, that I learned efficiently, that I learned proactively, and that I learned genuinely.

Timmy TEDx

Timmy TEDx

It was not only these personal laboratories that afforded to my genuine learning, yet it was my teachers, more properly titled “academic coaches”, who invested themselves in me, in my classmates, and into the philosophies of Dewey. These coaches did not segregate the classroom into teacher and student, content deliverer and content receiver, yet they permeated that rigid construct and developed relationships with the students. They demonstrated authentic interest in the individual’s personal learning goals, which was then reciprocated by the student as authentic interest in his learning. They made the classroom symbiotic because they were not afraid to learn and to question with their students. And, chiefly, they provided personalized feedback.

Feedback does, notably, have the greatest affect on student learning. This assertion is both documented in John Hattie’s meta-analysis of student learning, as well as confirmed by myself, a current student aware of his intellectual developmental needs. This feedback, like the classroom environment, must be personalized to the student. Much of the personalized learning scenario described above depends on personalized feedback from the teacher. When students are specifically informed of what was understood and misunderstood, as well as advised in which direction to progress, and to further their work, they will retain the information and improve. It is essential that students further the work post-feedback. Assessments do not inform students on content, nor how to improve, when they are employed as the end result. Yet, assessments used throughout, or as a learning process, yield the greatest development.

As I reflect, I am fondly reminded of my personal laboratories, my academic coaches, and my personalized feedback. I can recall with great detail the lessons, the incredible men and women, and the personal and academic advice they extended. I remember all of this because it was personal. It was designed by educational innovators determined for students’ success. It was the teachers, the coaches, who allowed me, who perpetuated me, to challenge and to explore. It was their advice, their words, their individual work with me. And as I continue on past high school, I will always credit those laboratories, those people, and that advice, to contributing to a successful education- to a successful life.

Timmy Sullivan, a senior at Burlington High School, eagerly promotes personalized learning and student agency cultures through his work as a freelance blogger and public speaker. He enjoys foreign language, vinyl records, and student agency in education.