Sunday, 22 May 2016

Thanks for the Feedback - Stone and Heen

As one of my three big steps heading towards my desired reality is to focus on receiving feedback I thought I better do some reading about it!

I'm not that far in and already I think this is a throughly worthwhile read. 

So far I have learnt about the three types of feedback:
1) appreciation
2) coaching
3) evaluation

All three types are just as important as the other. The book says that without evaluation (what you are doing is good/average/rubbish - may involve 'results') coaching becomes a bit pointless really. "We can't focus on how to improve, until we know where we stand." 

However, it also says that coaching always includes a bit of evaluation in it. Unfortunately, if the conversation involves both together, then the evaluation often overshadows the coaching. That conversation is likely happening as a coaching conversation because the expectation hasn't been met. This leaves the receiver feeling surprised and unable to take on board the coaching aspect. The authors suggests having the evaluation conversation days, or more, ahead of the coaching conversation. 

Of course, that's just one of the complications that comes with receiving feedback. Consideration must also be given to the type of feedback about to be given or received. It is important to start the conversation with what type of feedback it is to be, in order to avoid confusion. I don't know that this is necessary for appreciation - I think that this is probably the easiest form of feedback to recognise (as long as it's not backhanded) and receive. 

It's left me thinking about where I see feedback in education. There is two ways to look at this - feedback to the the children about learning as well as feedback from senior leaders to staff.

Let's go with the children first. I think, in general, all of these types of feedback are happening all the time. Appreciation happens a lot! All those years as a trainee and early teacher hearing about positive praise (but not empty praise!!!!) has paid off. There is also a great deal of coaching and evaluation going on, but often will happen in the same conversation - "Jane - you're running record (evaluation) shows that you have improved in your reading and you will move up to the next level. Your reading was much more fluent than it has been and now we will work together on improving your expression (coaching)."

How about the teachers though? Are they getting the feedback they need to learn and grow? I'm speaking very generally here, but I think the only true forms of evaluative feedback many teachers get are their students results (which they're actually analysing themselves) and their appraisal. And dare I say it - I'm not really sure of the validity of appraisal.... Others also question this (maybe the same or different reasons) and they are making changes to the way appraisal is being carried out, now putting the appraisee in the drivers seat to steer their own growth. Yes - there are many benefits here BUT where do these people get their evaluative feedback from? Unless it is a coaching conversation that involves evaluation - in which case, as above, the coaching will get lost.

For me, continuing this read will be key to deciding my steps. I think one thing I need to get sorted though is an evaluative conversation with my senior leaders - am I actually meeting expectation in their eyes? 

Stay tuned for further insights from the book.

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