Session Recap: Feedback That Feeds Forward

Session Recap: Feedback That Feeds Forward

In one of the sessions from the 2023 ReAction Virtual Conference, Jenny Ray, owner of LeadFWD, discussed empowering teachers through feedback that feeds forward. In the session, Jenny Ray, an experienced educator and presenter, shares insights on fostering self-efficacy among teachers, the importance of effective listening skills, and implementing a system of intentional growth. Her strategies aim to create a culture of empowerment and continuous professional development for teachers.

The Power of Empowerment

Jenny Ray emphasizes the significance of empowering teachers as they play a pivotal role in students’ learning and development. By empowering teachers, leaders provide them with the confidence and autonomy to make decisions, resulting in improved morale, job satisfaction, and stronger relationships. Teachers with high levels of self-efficacy are more open to new teaching methods, set challenging goals, exhibit strong planning and organizational skills, and focus on problem-solving.

Feedback that Feeds Forward

Ray introduces the concept of “feedback that feeds forward,” which is focused on high expectations, strengths-based growth, data-driven feedback, and goal-oriented strategies. By building on teachers’ strengths and passions, district leaders can impact growth in areas where improvement is needed. Feedback should always consider the impact on students and be supported by evidence. Goal-setting based on current practice and desired outcomes is crucial for fostering self-directed learning and growth.

Effective Listening Skills

Ray highlights the importance of effective listening skills in providing meaningful feedback and support to teachers. Autobiographical listening, solution-finding listening, and inquisitive or scrutinizing listening are barriers that need to be set aside. Autobiographical listening shifts the focus from the teacher to the listener, solution-finding listening creates dependency, and inquisitive listening can derail the conversation. Mind-reading and internal rehearsing should also be avoided to ensure active and attentive listening.

Creating an Intentional Growth System

Ray suggests transforming the existing system of observations and professional growth plans into a more meaningful and connected process. Instead of isolated observations, she advocates for collaborative planning conversations that align with teachers’ professional growth plans. These conversations should be goal-oriented, driven by criteria for success, and connected to ongoing reflections and planning. The goal is to create a spiral of continuous growth and ensure teachers have a clear trajectory of their progress.

The Professional Growth Conversation Protocol

Ray provides a conversation protocol to guide leaders in fostering intentional growth discussions with teachers. The protocol covers various aspects, including data analysis, determining focus areas for growth, understanding success criteria, action planning and commitment, support identification, and reflection and feedback. These conversations are designed to be differentiated and provide teachers with the opportunity to reflect on their practice, identify strengths, set goals, and collaborate on growth strategies.

The Professional Growth Cycle

Ray presents the professional growth cycle, which encompasses using data and standards to identify areas for improvement, focusing and planning for growth, engaging in learning and practice, reflecting on progress, and seeking support and feedback. The cycle ensures a continuous and intentional approach to professional growth throughout the year.

Building a Culture of Empowerment

Ray shares examples of schools implementing strategies to build a culture of empowerment. These include the use of a “pineapple chart” where teachers invite colleagues to observe their classrooms and share feedback, as well as the use of hashtags like #observeme to encourage observation and collaboration. These practices create opportunities for teachers to learn from one another and promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Empowering teachers through feedback that feeds forward is essential for their growth and the success of students. By fostering self-efficacy, providing intentional support, and creating a system of collaborative growth, leaders can create a culture where teachers thrive. Implementing effective listening skills and using structured protocols for professional growth conversations further enhance the growth process. By embracing these strategies, educators can empower teachers and create an environment conducive to lifelong learning and development.