Start Small!

To gradually build mutual trust at the heart of learning

At the heart of an education system developing 21st century skills is a mutually trusting relationship between the educator and her student which allows co-creation of the pathway towards optimal development.  Such a relationship is characterised by feedback flowing both ways.  Information that supports the student’s growth and information that allows the educator to refine what they are providing to their students.

Educators are in the business of giving feedback, but students are not.Yet students need to give feedback and that feedback can sometimes be very direct, challenging even.If the educator responds negatively (feeling affronted, in denial, angry) then the student is likely to conclude that they should not try something like this again and, anyone watching, will come to the same conclusion.

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A great deal of effort is going into strengthening formative assessment, educator to student.  But there is not yet a great deal of effort going into developing effective feedback going the other way.

Feedback from student to educator has two hurdles to get over: student reluctance to provide effective feedback – because it is perceived not to be worth it and it is a risk for the student to offer it – and educator acceptance of feedback from students as being valid and their being able to receive it with equanimity.

It is in this context that the starting point is anonymous student feedback, easily collected, only visible to the individual teacher – so it is safe - and viewed within a context that encourages reflection and the taking of action.

John Corrigan