Monday, August 1, 2016

Feedback: The Sound of Silence

**Reflection post for UDL course, How would student feedback be useful?

In the classic song, "The Sound of Silence", Simon and Garfunkel sing about "people talking without speaking" and "people hearing without listening."  Their message a few lyrics later?  They don't want the only sound to be the sound of silence.  They sing "hear my words that I might teach you, hear my words that I might reach you."

Why did this song pop in my mind when I started thinking about student feedback?  Well, probably because I don't think it's an area that we have really addressed and tapped into as educators.  When you ask teachers if they take feedback from their students...sometimes you get a blank stare and the sound of silence.  For some reason, feedback for many of us humans is a tough pill to swallow.  It's not everyone's favorite have someone come into your classroom and watch you work.  We get nervous.  We think about making the wrong move or saying the wrong move and then because we thought that, we get ourselves all flustered in the middle of a lesson that we normally had no problem doing.

Here's the thing.  You have a lot of someones watching you work everyday.  Even if their eyes aren't always on you, they are usually listening.  And we all know how brutally honest they can be!  Since it is our students who are with us day in and day out, they should be the ones to give us honest feedback.  They should be the ones to help us improve.  It's their future on the line, and if we aren't doing what's best for them, if they aren't hearing us or we aren't reaching them, then we need to know that and make improvements.

Think about this.  If one teacher asks her students for feedback, makes changes and improves her teaching, that class benefits.  If all of the teachers in the school ask for student feedback, make changes and improve, then the whole school benefits.  Teachers improve.  Students improve.  Teaching improves.  Learning improves.  Seems pretty simple to me.

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