Feedback (n): “Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.”
In Visible Learning, John Hattie says that for feedback to be meaningful, it needs to not only be timely and detailed, but also to clearly point students toward future improvement or success. He calls this “where to next.”
Hattie is right about one of the things learners need in order to progress – they need to know how to do better. They need teachers to show them where they stumbled and point them in the right direction for next time.
But as any teacher or student knows, giving and getting thoughtful feedback takes real time and focus.
I feel for teachers. It can be hard to deliver meaningful suggestions in a timely manner given all of the other responsibilities on our plates. It can also be hard to give enough feedback, especially when we think a student has succeeded at, but not transcended, an assignment.
I feel for students, too. It can be hard to wait for feedback, especially when we think we have done well but suspect that we may have missed something in our presentation or preparation. The desire for affirmation or critique only grows with time.
All of this causes static in the feedback loop. But we have always had to live with waiting for feedback while moving forward. And while feedback is important, it is also as important if not more so for students to think critically about their own work and identify the places where they themselves want to improve, regardless of input.
Waiting for someone we trust and admire to give us feedback on our work is one of the hallmarks of (school) life. And filling in the blanks while we wait is, as well.