“Feedforward” not back!

Making the transition to a new teacher feedback tool, while slow and often cumbersome, is an exciting process.  As a new member of this community I have no previous experience with teacher feedback at Academia Cotopaxi.  However, over the last couple years I’ve made the supervision and evaluation process a professional focus of mine.  It’s an incredibly powerful tool for improving student learning and the conversations that come from frequent classroom visits and follow up conversations are, honestly, one of my favorite parts of my job.

As a former Language Arts teacher, I often equate the process of teacher supervision to helping students with the writing process.  Being the outside observer, there is only so much one can do to push the process forward.  Just as I was never the one doing the actual writing, I can’t dictate where the classroom (or story) goes.  The goal of the supervision process is much the same as guiding a writer; through observations and conversations we hope to lead a teacher through a reflective process that allows them to grow and improve as a teacher…leading to an overall better story of success in the classroom.

At the end of the day the process of reflecting and growing as a teacher shouldn’t really be any more work than normal.  Through reflective conversations we hope to help teachers think about their classroom and the teaching process on a deeper level by providing ‘outside’ observations and feedback.  Similar to how you might guide a writer through the reflective process of revising a piece of writing, the aim of teacher supervision is to take something that is already well developed and help move it to the next level.  We’re all working every day to grow and be better at what we do, having someone along to help with the reflective process shouldn’t create more work but rather ensure that the process of reflecting is an even more valuable use of your time.

We’re currently at the beginning stages of the reflective process (as far as our school year is concerned) and have been asked to self-assess and set some goals for professional growth.  I recently read a fantastic blog post about the concept of “feedforward” as opposed to the over-used “feedback”.  The concept is simple, instead of focusing on the past, look forward instead.  The concept of feedforward is rooted in the idea that growth should be driven not by the supervisor looking from the top down but rather from our own goals and desire to improve.  In the context of “feedforward” the goal setting process becomes even more important, as the goal(s) you choose will have a direct correlation to your growth throughout the school year.  Have a look at this fantastic post, it’s not too long and written with educators in mind (it’s from edutopia.com)  As you go through the self-assessment and goal setting process please keep the idea of “feedforward” in your mind; the power of growth comes from within.  

This great quote from the blog post says it all (and sounds very similar to what we hope to see with students in the classrooms):

“Feedforward means that teachers are not simply empty vessels waiting to be filled, but change agents waiting to be launched.”

Good luck and happy reflecting 🙂