I recently completed a Train-The-Trainer program with an enthusiastic and well-prepared group of CLASS observers. Yet, despite their status as certified CLASS observers, several of them were identifying basic conversational exchanges as feedback loops.
As I worked with them to explain the difference, one participant looked up and said, “There are back-and-forth exchanges in both Quality of Feedback and Language Modeling; How do you distinguish between them?”
“Great question!” I said as I turned to the group and asked who was up for a role-play. Fortunately, someone was game. Here is what I did to illustrate the difference:
Me: “What did you have for breakfast this morning?”
Participant: “Oh. I had a very good breakfast. I had bacon and eggs, toast and fruit.”
Me: “Wow! That sounds like a great breakfast.”
Participant: “It was. It was a very good breakfast.”
Me: “Is that what you normally eat for breakfast?”
Participant: “Well, I do like to have bacon and eggs when I can.”
Me: “Geez. I usually just eat oatmeal & have a glass of juice for breakfast. “
Participant: “Not me. I like to start my day with a big breakfast.”
Me: “That sounds delicious. I might have to join you for breakfast tomorrow.”
Participant: “Feel free to join me.”
I turned to the group and asked if we had just engaged in a back-and-forth exchange. They all nodded their heads yes. I then asked if it was a feedback loop or a general conversation. When the group could not reach consensus, I had them turn to the face page for Quality of Feedback to read the definition (pg. 69). I then said, “Yes, there was a back-and-forth exchange, but did it meet the intent of Quality of Feedback? Did it increase the participant’s learning or understanding?” I could see the light bulbs starting to go off.
This brief role-play effectively illustrated the difference between conversational back-and-forth exchanges and those that occur during feedback loops. Remember, feedback loops serve to expand learning. I was the only person who learned something in that exchange. I learned that I really should have eaten breakfast with that participant!
How do you help your participants understand feedback loops?
“What I think I’m most proud of as a professional in the field is our ability to show up, our ability to still do it, to still roll with the changes… We have to adjust. That is what educators did the entire year. We show up. We have a strong why. We love what we do.” This is a quote from Colleen Schmit from our recent webinar, Celebrating Great Teaching. She’s talking about how hard the last couple of school years have been for teachers. Teachers faced a similar difficulty 20 years ago when the United States faced a national tragedy.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But after more than 18 months, it’s clear that the pandemic is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.
There’s no sugar coating it - the 2020-21 school year was tough. Teachers, schools, and child care workers shouldered a massive burden, taking work that was already challenging and turning the difficulty up to 11. Well, maybe 12 or 13. Or 15. Who’s counting?
So, as you, educators, prepare for the upcoming school year, Teachstone wanted to recognize all the creativity, flexibility, and impact that teachers have demonstrated. We brought together Teachstone’s Kristin Valdes, Senior Instructional Designer, and Colleen Schmit, CDA Facilitator, in a recent webinar to celebrate the great and important work of teachers and to explore how the smallest moments make big impacts.
Here’s what our hosts shared with and heard from participants.