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Non evaluation feedback

Learners need non-evaluative, low-stakes feedback 

Imagine if you attended a seminar on “How to Skate” and the facilitator presented a Powerpoint outlining the key principles of skating, and then sent you out into into the world with a, “Good luck, I’m sure you’ll all be fine!”

Better instruction would involve:

  • a few brief instructions;
  • opportunity to try out the new skill;
  • feedback that is on-the spot, just-in-time, and low-stakes.


This would be similar to a skating instructor giving participants a chance to put their skates on, getting them out on to the ice, and then calling out a few brief instructions as he saw how people were progressing: “everybody! bend your knees a little more, it will help you keep your balance!” 

What does this look like in a PD session?Effective PD leaders give feedback one tiny element at a time when teachers are learning a new skill. Also PD leaders, we can be tempted to share numerous observations and points of feedback, but teachers, like all learners  cannot integrate many points of feedback at once.

Lisa led PD focused on how to teach students the reading comprehension skill of visualizing.
Lisa’s planning

Teachers will:
1.    Watch video of three master teachers enacting the practice of modeling how to visualize
2.    Write down all the moves they noticed while watching the videos of the master teachers
3.    Collectively develop a template for planning think alouds
4.    Plan a think aloud in partners using a picture book which Lisa provides.
5.    Rehearse their think aloud in front of the group
6.    Give feedback using the thinkaloud criteria in the template
Feedback during Lisa’s presentation

Marcia: We’re going to read “The Stamp Collector” to learn more about injustice in the world.
Lisa: Marcia, I noticed you introduced the upcoming activity by saying,  At the beginning of a think aloud, it’s important that we introduce the WHY before we talk about the WHAT with kids. What about something like, “We’re going to read ‘The Stamp Collector’ to practice our new reading skill, visualizing. Remember, visualizing is making a movie in our mind when we read. It helps us to picture what’s going on in the book.
Marcia: Oh yeah! Let me start over.

In this way, Lisa’s “time outs” served as opportunities for not only the rehearsing teacher, but all the other participants in the PD session as well, to refine their understanding of the practice through rapid, low-stakes, on the spot feedback.