How to establish a good feedback culture in the school
It is undoubtedly one of the forms of communication that has the greatest potential for success and satisfaction: good feedback. This is not just a simple feedback or assessment of a particular course of action or an issue. No, successful feedback is much more complex. And a real win!
Feedback has many facets
First, realize this: As a teacher, you are, by definition, an expert on feedback. There are so many institutionalized forms of feedback in everyday school life that giving feedback, finding compromises and responding to the needs of those around you are probably already second nature to you. Grading, certificate conferences, parents’ evenings, agreements in the college … Feedback is an integral part of your professional life.
But it is worthwhile for you to take a closer look at how feedback can also take place and how you can benefit from it. As a teacher, but also as a person.
Good feedback is used for further development
In the past, feedback was primarily a teacher’s assessment of the student and was considered a tool for measuring achievement. That’s different today. The opposite perspective is particularly exciting for teachers: How does the learning group perceive my lessons? What is going really well and where is there still room for improvement? Where can I improve?
But feedback from colleagues, between teachers and school management or in contact with legal guardians is also a supportive tool that you should consciously use on a regular basis in order to stay in contact with one another and to develop further. By announcing or – even better – jointly determining at what intervals and in what form feedback should take place, you create a secure framework that contributes to a good culture of communication and prevents conflicts.
The first step: creating clarity and questioning motives
The first step on the way to good feedback practice is: create clarity. Question your own motives and goals. Become aware of the value you personally see in a good feedback culture and the importance you attach to this powerful communication tool in everyday teaching. The clearer your position is, the more confidently you can convey it.
Important questions to ask yourself:
- What do I mean by feedback?
- What should it be good for in my case?
- How much time am I willing and able to invest in a feedback process on a regular basis?
- What feedback has really helped me personally in the past?
- Which one annoyed me?
- What is preventing me from attaching greater importance to the subject of feedback?
Knowledge gain through honest student feedback
In order to create an atmosphere in the classroom in which honest feedback is welcome and taken for granted, teachers and learners must cooperate. That sounds challenging, but if you take a closer look, it means above all that you are giving your students the opportunity to be more actively involved in the lesson. They are probably very happy to take advantage of this opportunity because it makes them feel that they are taken seriously and valued. Try it.
If you establish feedback processes in your lessons, this will most likely have a positive effect on the connection with your students. Effective two-way feedback is motivating, improves the learning climate and helps you to focus even more on your class. Your teaching will get better.
Develop potential with mutual openness
It is not only true in the school environment: Feedback is there to gain knowledge in order to be able to change and improve certain behaviour. Ideally, it sets a learning process in motion and is therefore extremely helpful for consciously developing your own potential. However, this requires mutual openness, a dose of courage and respectful, appreciative cooperation.
So be curious and learn from your students. In this way you can find out how they respond to your lessons, what they particularly like and what they find difficult. You then have the opportunity to make changes based on this feedback. Embark on the change of perspective and prepare yourself for surprises. Sometimes it’s just the little things that you haven’t given any importance to, that make a big difference.
Three simple feedback methods for your lessons
Successful feedback in everyday school life is not magic. But it takes a bit of practice and structure. As a reminder and inspiration, here are three very simple methods that you probably already know and can use again directly.
traffic light feedback
The simple but effective feedback traffic light gives you the opportunity to get very quick and direct feedback from your class.
In elementary school you can tinker the three coloured pieces of cardboard yourself and then use them again and again for different questions. Your students will get used to it and learn that their opinions matter.
A simple questionnaire given to students at the end of a lesson or lesson is also very popular. Mostly anonymously, you then enter, tick or use a scale to rate what is important to you to learn. You can use it to query different aspects – from the quality of the content of the lesson to the choice of method to a thematic ranking or personal preferences.
Such a questionnaire may also contain a text field for individual information, but should not be too long and be able to be filled out quickly. Ideally, you will use the information you have gathered to later discuss it with the class and develop a nice idea or plan for the future.
feedback in motion
The four-corner method, for example, is a good way to get your students moving and at the same time receive valuable feedback. You can also “draw” a line on the floor with wool or sticky tape, which you then use to lay out certain aspects or answer options on paper. The students now choose the answer that suits them best. This gives you a good picture of the mood in a very short time with little effort.
An extension of this method is that the students discuss the chosen option within their group and then briefly explain their choice to the others or present their thoughts on it. They get to know themselves, their skills and (learning) preferences better.
Feedback needs to be learned
A conscious feedback process opens up a space for feedback that is often not there in the regular lesson. This makes stress-free communication possible – sometimes in a playful way.
But not everything is always friendly and respectful right from the start. Giving and receiving feedback needs to be learned, both by students and by you as teachers. It is never easy and natural to accept criticism and question your own behaviour. On the contrary. It can be uncomfortable, feel unfair, or trigger a justification reflex.
Feedback culture as a school development topic
In this way, mutual trust can develop over time, which not only has concrete advantages for the (further) development of each individual, but also has a positive effect on everyday interactions. The better it is possible to establish a present and appreciative feedback culture in school activities, the more everyone involved will benefit from it.