Being an administrator in the public education system has meant that I’ve had a few conversations with people where the content was difficult for me to share and, in most cases, even more difficult for the other person to hear.
Some examples …
- Meeting with a student who has not achieved to their potential;
- Conversing with parents about their child’s struggles;
- Debriefing with a staff member who was not successful in an interview;
- Sharing the tragic news of a student or staff member who has died. Unfortunately, I’ve had to do this a few times in my career.
Wait a minute! Teaching less is a good thing?
Let’s be careful in what is actually being said here. Teaching is an EXCELLENT thing to do. If we didn’t teach adequately our students would not learn sufficiently. But, what Grant Wiggins is trying to stress is that FEEDBACK is one of the strongest correlates to student success. And not just a letter grade or percentage, but critical feedback that helps the student learn from their mistakes so that they can focus on personal improvement.
Nobody gets better by just seeing a ‘B’ on their paper, lab report or report card. What makes us improve our learning is the opportunity to understand what we didn’t fully succeed at, be given an opportunity to refine our learning and perhaps demonstrate our mastery of the topic again.
I remember sitting in a meeting where we were talking about feedback, student mastery of material and grading. The speaker asked us to step out from our ‘classroom comfort zone’ and think about … parachute packing.
OK. Why not?