Wednesday, May 18, 2016

4 Ideas For Gathering Feedback To Help You Do Your Job Better

How are you getting feedback that helps you be the best you can be in your job? Many employees simply rely on existing structures to receive feedback. This can be a problem; in some cases there are no structures and in others the formal evaluations or performance reviews do not solicit constructive, useful advice. That’s because often with formal structures, the methods used can be sterile, inauthentic, and unhelpful.

There are numerous articles written about why evaluation tools like 360 or frameworks like Danielson are not effective. Main issues are that sporadic observations or feedback often provided by superiors who aren’t themselves qualified to do your job or teach your subject are not generally accurate or useful. Another is that individuals generally know their strengths and weaknesses. Pointing them out isn’t particularly helpful. Providing realistic ways to build on strengths or overcome weaknesses is helpful, but generally missing from such evaluations.  

Innovative educators are proactive when it comes to getting feedback that helps them be their best at their jobs. So, what are some effective ways to elicit feedback?  

Here are a few ideas.

  1. Ask
    Teaching a class? Working on a project? Ask those you are engaging with what they liked and what would have made the experience better for them. What they liked is a strength. Keep doing that. When they share what would make it better, take note and see if this is something you can incorporate into follow up and future work. You can make this ask via a conversation or a quick survey to your audience / clients.  
  2. Meet
    One-on-one meetings provide a focused way to improve communication. It is a time where both parties can focus on specific work, discuss status updates, and maximize development by requesting and providing feedback and coaching to maximize productivity and contribute to professional development. These meetings can occur at all levels including between Superintendents and principals, principals or department heads and teachers, and also between teachers and students. With students, a teacher can discuss with their student ideas they have for how their teacher can help them learn better. This helps student become more aware of how they learn best and provides insights to teachers about their students.

  1. Written Reflection
    When teaching a class or doing a project, on upon it. What went really well. What didn’t go well and how can you improve that for the next time. Document your thoughts so they are handy to put into action the next time. You can take this to the next level by blogging about your experience so others can learn from your successes and mistakes.
  2. Get social
    Social networks provide a powerful way to get feedback during all phases of your work. Whether you are planning a class, workshop, or project, you can turn to your peers (or students!) and get their advice or insights. Prior you can ask for suggestions, advice, resources.  If you get stuck in the middle of a project or class, shoot a question out to your network and get instant feedback and advice. Afterwards, turn to the network and ask them about the experience and find out what else it is they need.  Not only does this give you great feedback, it also helps strengthen relationships.  

These skills are not only important for educators. As educator Bill Ferriter recently pointed out, "The best feedback is gathered, not given." This means we not only need to take these these actions for ourselves, but also think about how we are helping our students get this type of meaningful feedback.

What do you think? What have your experiences been with evaluations and reviews? What has worked? What has not? How have you helped your students gather meaningful feedback? Please share in the comments.

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