Providing Strength-Based Feedback

Providing strengths-based feedback is a key to pushing towards rigorous reflection during coaching sessions. Yet is can be uncomfortable for a coach when a teacher asks for feedback.

“How do you envision using the three steps for providing strengths-based feedback?”

“What are some situations when you will use these methods?”

“What language stems would you use to provide strengths-based feedback?”

Evaluating our impact is a core practice for student-centered coaching. It is how we tell the story of learning and growth across the coaching cycle. The Results-Based Coaching Tool is a powerful resource for not only staying on track in a coaching cycle, but celebrating the results at the end.

I believe using strength-based feedback will be valuable in implementing instructional practices in the middle school. Being a newbie to school, this strength-angle move will continue to honor previous work accomplished by teachers and all stakeholders actually.

Having worked in different international schools over the years, I have seen new teachers and administration show up and start redesigning systems, structures, and such and then current faculty finding themselves on unsure ground making for unwarranted anxiety and stress. I have done myself on several occasions. Even with the most positive intentions, at times, these changes have added pressure on current faculty as they begin to navigate everyones new waters.

By understanding and focusing on the three elements of clarifying, valuing and uncovering possibilities, I can foresee myself better relating feedback to both students and teachers and clients–whether it be in the form of: learning targets, newly adopted ISTE standards, rock climbing/mountain biking protocols, and/or Wadi Rum camp guest relations or environs.

I envision using these moves more regularly by staying focused on what the teacher has decided to learn and do in the classroom. In the past I regularly injected my own ‘techie’ feedback thinking it was accurate and useful for the teacher. Now instead I plan to clarify by asking ‘how are the students doing?’ rather than ‘how are you doing?’ in terms of managing and integrating technology within the curriculum. To value teacher work I will concentrate on the evidence of student growth with the deconstructed ISTE “I can” statements to recognize student progress. I love the idea. By uncovering the possibilities and asking ‘what can we do next?’ and ‘how might we differentiate to meet student growth?’ instead of what do they need to learn or stay current in best practice.

Again, in the past I found myself consulting with the teacher related to technology tools and troubleshooting and this often was worked out in informal or formal dialogue but usually during their prep time. But knowing strength-based feedback is driven from spending time in the classroom with students, I will adjust accordingly and concentrate more time to co-teaching and micro-modeling. And being cognizant of the Zone of Proximal Development should lessen the likelihood of me overwhelming teachers with a whole bunch of technology moves that might lead to frustration or burnout. This year in particular I observed a lot of behavior related to the stress and pressure to stay abreast of change.

Our school is undergoing significant shifts as well as new rollouts. As we implement PLC, Adaptive Schools, Design Thinking, Passion Projects and the like, I think using strength-based feedback will fit tightly within the established collaborative learning environment. Using the protocol for providing feedback in teams will help me serve teachers as we regularly meet in division, grade-level and PLC teams. Furthermore, the adoption of a strength-based feedback approach will support our flexible, resilient and ever nimble faculty as we take risks and strides to best serve our community.

About Brent Fullerton

International educator and entrepreneur striving to enhance lives.
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