Eavesdropping at the Coffee Shop

Sunday afternoon ritual at the coffee shop, computer, earbuds, writing journal ready to get to work. The hours’ pass. Interesting people come and go with their coffee creations; lattes, cold brew and foamy cappuccinos. The college professor with a furrowed brow grades papers for his economics class. The busy realtor conducting business rather loudly, on her cell phone. The giggly teenage girls with their very thick binders studying for their exam. Amazing the conversations one hears without even trying.

“Is that the right answer?”

“Let me check in the back of my study guide.”

“Hmm, I’m not sure let me check my notes from Mr. Smith.”

“He wrote, Good!” “Let me check this one, Nice Job!” “That’s helpful,” she groaned. “What does yours say?”

“Mr. Morgan said I was on target with naming the author’s purpose as to inform the reader, but said that my writing lacked evidence from the text to support my idea.” “ He suggested, I refer to the learning progression we created in class.”

“Can I see that?” “Wow, that is helpful.” “What’s that?”

“Oh, Mr. Morgan leaves us feedback on Flipgrid.” “I forgot to look at this one.”

“Let’s see what he said.”

“He is so funny with his polka dot bow ties,” she giggled.

“He has some great ideas!”

“Wow, let’s give his suggestion a try!”

It was interesting listening to the two students and their response to the feedback they received from their two very different teachers. Providing feedback to students is nothing new. Educators have been providing feedback to students for some time. The difference is the focus that educators place on this support. A blog post by Patty McGee shares four very simple words that may shift your thinking on how you offer feedback. “Because … you are ready for …” This very simple format is very powerful when used with students. It helps the student focus on not only the positive strategy they are using but also the next step that they could use to improve their writing and move them forward.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast by Jennifer Gonzalez’s podcast, on Cult of Pedagogy. (If you do not follow her you need to stop reading this and follow the link to her website!)

In her podcast, Move from Feedback to Feedforward she interviews Joe Hirsch, author of The Feedback Fix: Dump the Past, Embrace the Future, and Lead the Way to Change. In the podcast, they discuss the six characteristics of feedforward that make it effective. Peer and group feedback is one strategy he suggests. Having ownership of a partner or peer to offer feedback can be a very powerful tool if time is spent with students on how they would deliver positive feedback. Creating a specific plan; step by step is another suggestion. Instead of just telling the student what they should be doing, breaking it down into manageable steps provides concrete actions for the student to try. If you are looking to make a bigger impact on how to move students forward provide authentic feedback with specific, manageable steps that students may transfer to a variety of learning experiences.

And remember you never know what you might hear when you are not listening.

2018 SOL #7

4 thoughts on “Eavesdropping at the Coffee Shop”

  1. I love the idea of feedforward and the “Because of _ you are ready for -” . I try to do this, but that sentence frame is such a clear way to do it. It’s less likely to cause students to feel criticized and gives them the idea they are progressing! Love it! Thanks!

  2. The dialogue you captured is priceless.
    Teachers will see themselves- are they the one who writes “good job!” which doesn’t help, or the one who writes substantive comments that the student can really use.

  3. This is so interesting! I love the idea of “feedforward”! Sigh. This makes me wish I was still in the classroom. There are other ways I can use these tools, but working with students would be my favorite way.

    I love your Sunday morning eavesdropping in the coffee shop. I’ve recently moved to a new neighborhood. I haven’t found my local hangout spot yet. I need to get to work on that! 🙂

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