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  • Writer's pictureJudy

May 19, 2024: Feedback

“Mrs. Lindquist, I need some feedback…”


         One of my 5th graders plopped her laptop down on my desk and began to show me the slides she was working on. The students were in the midst of finishing up their final projects of the year.

 

         When students ask for feedback, my teacher heart bursts with joy.  That means they understand that they are not expected to be perfect.  That they have the power to improve their work. And that they are embracing that growth mindset.

        

Feedback is such an essential part of life, whether we realize it or not. Everything we do produces some sort of feedback, and we use that to determine if things need to change or if we are getting the results we want.  A plant that is wilting is feedback.  A compliment on a new haircut is feedback.  While this sort of feedback is built into life, we also strategically seek out feedback.

 

I often ask for feedback.  Feedback from my fellow educators (especially if they happen to be in my classroom or involved in a learning activity I am implementing), and feedback from my students are essential as I look for ways to improve my educational practice.  Feedback from my family when I am trying a new recipe.  Feedback is essential to take that next step forward in any endeavor.

 

When my students, my fellow writers or fellow teachers ask for feedback, I take the task very seriously.

 

Perhaps seeking feedback on writing though, is the most complex.  Writing is subjective, complex, personal, and distinct. Asking someone for feedback, is not a one size fits all. Even those with the best intentions, are impacted by their own bias.

 

There are however, ways to optimize feedback:


-       Be clear about what kind of feedback you need.

 Do you want to know if the overall impression is what you are going for? Do you need specific feedback to determine if the dialogue sounds authentic?  Do you want to know if the themes are easily identifiable? Are you trying to find out if the historical facts are accurate? When seeking feedback, make sure that you are clear about what kind of feedback you are seeking.

 

-       Find the right person for the feedback you need.

Once you know what kind of feedback you need, you can seek out the right reader. Do you want a beta reader for overall impressions?  An historical expert to verify your historical facts and information? A sensitivity reader to make sure your biases have not impacted your writing?  These are all very different readers with different expertise, and therefore, different perspectives.

 

-       Be clear and upfront about your time needs.

Sometimes we are revising with deadlines looming, so making sure the person giving feedback understands your time constraints is critical. They may not be able to meet your deadline, but that is important to know. An honest and clear discussion up front will save stress and prevent conflict later.

 

 

Feedback is probably the most critical component for any kind of growth. And those who seek out feedback, are clearly ready to take that next step.




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