Friday, November 30, 2012

Providing Feedback

We've collected walk through data for a few years now. Last year we had almost 1000 pieces of data for our roughly 50 member staff and the year before that we had almost 1500 pieces. We used a template through eWalk which we created. There were checkboxes, radio buttons, and places to type notes. Feedback from staff (after they were use to administrators being in their rooms frequently), "Yeah, those numbers don't really help me know what to improve in my classroom." And what teachers said they liked best? "You remember that little yellow sticky note you left me? I really appreciated your note about what you saw in my classroom."

How do you move from data collection to meaningful, personal feedback? My staff love receiving little quick sticky notes from me when I am in their rooms, but how does one keep track of the little personal notes of feedback to see growth over time? My staff have made it very clear to me that while they are comfortable with idea that I am in their rooms quite a bit, they don't feel walk through data is helpful for their personal growth. How can I make sure I'm giving each teacher the personal feedback?

Because I imagine these questions are on the minds of other administrators, I thought I'd share my latest idea for providing my staff with personal feedback while also being able to keep a record for myself of whose room I've been in and what types of comments I'm leaving. I am using my iPad app called Penultimate with a stylus to jot down notes and email them immediately to teachers. I can take pictures of things I see happening in the classroom and jot a quick little note with it too. This app allows me to organize the notes in notebooks, so I can keep track of them in any manner I wish. Right now, I am organizing them by date so I can keep track of whose room I'm in and when.

My next idea came after this Monday's professional development where our staff spent time focusing our instruction using the book, Learning Targets: Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today's Lesson. There is an action tool for classroom walk throughs in that book that I scanned and saved as a picture in iPhoto. I clipped small sections of the photo and brought it into my app. See my note to Sue below.

Penultimate is certainly not the only note taking tool out there that can send notes via email. I like it best so far for two main reasons: 1) I can write on the pictures I take and photos I bring into my note and 2) I can rest my hand on the screen and still write.  I came across this blog post about different note taking apps and am sure there are more apps out there to meet this need.  Providing positive feedback with thought-provoking reflection questions is great feedback for students... and teachers.