An image of two white lion cubs. The cubs are communicating with each other, both sending and receiving feedback. I show this photograph, which was a source image from the “Wet Canvas” image library, first to show the model I was working from to develop the painting below…..
Now, here is the work in progress….as the layout and development of the painting progressed. There is a note of comforting caring and sharing in the image….
Then the final product. Much changed from the work in progress above, and developed after many hours of trial, error, and looking at the developing painting from different perspectives, lighting and finally in a frame. This is my interpretation of the original photograph.
What does this have to do with my title “Salve on the Wound”?
There are many ways a message can be delivered and many ways it may be received. In order to coach and improve student performance the instructor feedback must be respectful and a meaningful message needs to be conveyed to the student. I am not looking at “softening the blow” of observations that point to less than optimal performance, rather I am appreciative of a focused approach that provides supportive and useful commentary to a student that can spark them towards improvement in their work.
In Chapter 10 of “The Skillful Teacher” (2nd edition, Brookfield, S, 2006), Brookfield opens with …”Evaluating students’ learning is when the power relationship inherent in teaching becomes public and undeniable.” (Brookfield, 2006). The instructor or teacher is the leader of the pack, the guide for the group. Furthermore, their judgement and communication of acceptance or rejection of a student’s performance has broad reaching implications. The evaluation of the teacher involves more than just the student teacher relationship, but is branches out and also impacts the esteem within which the student’s peer group views a fellow student — as a high performer, teacher’s pet, inept slouch or just average, middle of the pack…..the students look to each other for feedback as well — and the instructor, much like a conductor of an orchestra can bring positive or negative attention to a player. The magic in the evaluation is that the feedback is helpful not harmful.
Brookfield provides examples of helpful evaluations that incorporate these key characteristics:
- Clarity – be clear, let students know what they are being measured against.
- Immediacy – timing is important and allows the student to focus on the areas where improvement and success are noted.
- Regularity – they need to hear from you, not just at the end of the program or course.
- Accessibility – make your feedback understandable, and be available to discuss to ensure they have a full understanding of your evaluation — and can respond.
- Individualized – provide some detail specific to the student.
- Affirming – acknowledge effort.
- Future-oriented – provide a beacon to follow through clear suggestions that support positive growth and development.
- Justifiable – tell them why. Relate it to the long term interests and bigger picture of their learning.
- Educative – consider what the student will take away and use from the instructor’s comments. The point is……give them something they can learn from. Make it useful not shaming.
Finally, the magic demonstrated in the video link below is more than sleight of hand, it is the magic of discovering the value of perspective. Your perspective and your student’s perspective. Brian Miller sums it up in his Tedx talk through one sentence. “Our world is a shared experience fractured by individual perspectives”.
Tedx Manchester High School 2015
MILLER, B. June 17, 2015, How to Magically Connect with Anyone, Tedx Manchester High School, Retrieved from Internet March 20, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4cV8yfgNyI
Wet Canvas Image, Retrieved from internet March 20, 2016: http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=122612&size=big&cat=