Feedforward Forum

What if we had large, visible whiteboards to receive feedforward from colleagues about big ideas we are trying in our classrooms/schools?

Photo of Michael Schurr

Written by

Updated Post (9/1/15): This idea is being combined with Richard Brehl's "Opportunity (Challenge) Board" as well as Paula Marra's "Explode the Silos" idea.

https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/evolve/opportunity-or-challenge-board

https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/evolve/and-we-are-back-to-transdisciplinary

Please leave us your feedback!

Updated Post (8/30/15): Next is a full size physical prototype with pictures to come.

Collaboration gdoc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kWsu8bX_CgtWSL-0N0mr_WDQK033UTpdscZ-XZTG0WA/edit?usp=sharing

Overview:

What if we openly shared our failures with each other? What if we, as teachers, felt comfortable enough to receive feedback from our colleagues about a lesson, activity, big idea that just didn't go as planned? Rather than sweeping the failure under the rug or trying to make changes alone, we relied on the ideas and creativity of the masses.  

Idea: Somewhere in the school, have a large white board with the categories: positives, possibilities, concerns, iterations.  On the board, we could share a brief overview of the project.  Then, share the positives of the project.  Even in failure, there are positive take aways. No project is a complete and total loss.  Next, share what might have come from the project, what were we hoping to achieve.  Finally, we share our concerns.  What did not work, what went wrong, what would WE do differently.  The final category, iterations, is where our colleagues can share what they think might improve the project or to leave questions that might guide us in a new direction.


Potential For Impact: 

By opening lines of communication and actively seeking feedback from colleagues, a culture of collaboration will occur. With a culture of collaboration, teachers will feel more confident to try new ideas and learn from failures.  Innovation will follow suit.


Value Prop/Pitch: 

Place a white board in a faculty area with four columns titled; positives, possibilities, concerns, iterations. Leave post-it notes and sharpies.

At a faculty meeting, actively take faculty step by step through the feedback forum process. Encourage faculty to utilize the board at their convenience.


How’d I get this idea off the ground?

Lead by example. Take charge. Put up the board and be the first to post. Put yourself out there and others will follow your lead.


Materials to get this idea off the ground:

    White Board/Chalk Board


    Post-it notes

    Sharpies


Original Post: What if we openly shared our failures with each other? What if we, as teachers, felt comfortable enough to receive feedback from our colleagues about a lesson, activity, big idea that just didn't go as planned? Rather than sweeping the failure under the rug or trying to make changes alone, we relied on the ideas and creativity of the masses.  

Idea: Somewhere in the school, have a large white board with the categories: positives, possibilities, concerns, iterations.  On the board, we could share a brief overview of the project.  Then, share the positives of the project.  Even in failure, there are positive take aways. No project is a complete and total loss.  Next, share what might have come from the project, what were we hoping to achieve.  Finally, we share our concerns.  What did not work, what went wrong, what would WE do differently.  The final category, iterations, is where our colleagues can share what they think might improve the project or to leave questions that might guide us in a new direction.

There is something about a neutral space, that one can leave ideas and receive feedback, that I think feels less judgmental.  

19 comments

Join the conversation:

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Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

FYI: Since this is now a combined idea, I evaluated the post made by Richard, because it seems to reflect the most recent evolution of the idea. (And I love the idea!!!)

Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy
Team

Michael, thank you for your idea. I loved the simplicity of the idea. Wanted to share how I incorporated your idea in a smaller scale into our teams ideas where teachers can share feedback about the process back to the guild. See our Teacher Feedback sheets for Collaborative Feedback Process (CFP) @ https://goo.gl/GlUk4y.
More about Collaborative Feedback Process (CFP) at - https://goo.gl/Cq1HLT
and Heroes of Hope at - https://goo.gl/yml9ef

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

In terms of a project to share, are you/we looking for something that we feel is a failure or something that we think we need feedback on?

In the scenario above, I would pick something like umm.. my fail at doing fail club... and write out the positives, possibilities, concerns, and let people add in iterations. But most of the things I would want to do this process with I would want people to give me comments in all the categories. This may be because most of what I want feedback on is work I do with teachers (rather than with students--I ask the students to help me when I struggle with a project in the classroom) and so they are the "users" for the project and so maybe have better insight than I on all the categories.

I can think of something we're just getting ready to implement and have had one training on how to use it during staff development and are having a second workshop on it this week. I can see the value of having staff fill in a white board (with post-its) on all four columns but it would be more about transparent feedback rather and the "there are positives in failure" aspect may not come into play (especially since I have a hard time identifying anything as a true failure--it's only if I write it off and give up, do I consider it a failure--everything else is part of the learning and reflecting process).

What does everyone think?

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

Similar questions here. I might want multiple boards, each one for a different schoolwide initiative.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Hi All, thank you for the stream of feedback and apologies for my absence from conversation. Decided to get away for an end of summer family vacation!

Jess, I like that you mention the board does not necessarily need to be based on failure, rather something on which you would like to receive feedback. I would love to explore this idea in more detail.

I also see this as a potential vehicle for opening lines of communication between grade levels, divisions, and departments which will lead to more collaboration. I do firmly believe a physical board would be necessary in order to really get the type of transparent feedback one would want within their own school. HOWEVER, I would love to prototype an online forum where we can seek feedback from educators around the world, much like the Teachers Guild forum.

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

Random, but: It occurs to me now that I actually did something similar to this with a class last year, in which I asked for student feedback on two different ways I was assessing reading. I liked that the board allowed for a kind of anonymity... the kids went up with markers, and I didn't really know their handwriting so I couldn't tell who wrote what. And then we had a great conversation about the comments, where they responded to comments left by other students. I think I took pictures of the board at some point.

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

I want to prototype this but I am struggling (as I am struggling with the opportunities board) for a safe place to put the board. We're spatially challenged at my school, and our staff room is a multi-use space. This is horrible but I worry about the staff feeling safe posting on a board where parents spend a lot of time. Yes, parents' ideas and participation are often quite useful in designing solutions, but we have hyper-involved parents and we're still in the stages of educating them that learning from mistakes is a part of life, etc. I worry they will jump on and participate in unsupportive manner (since even though it's a staff room, they have no qualms about using the space as if it was theirs.) I don't want them to use it as an opportunity to list their complaints. But that really is the only space that all teachers use.

Photo of Garth Nichols
Team

Hi Jessica,

I hear your and your worries. I would encourage you to take this risk, regardless. I think that some ppl will be very encouraged and welcoming with this opportunity, and some will want to take advantage.

Suggestions:
1) Use post-it notes instead of just a whiteboard. This will add a sense of ownership in the action of writing out the note and then intentionally sticking in on the board - as opposed to treating the board like an opportunity for negative graffiti
2) Encourage ppl to monitor the board, and empower them to write responses to negative comments. Networked, or community facilitation will demonstrate capacity for this intiative and this shift in culture.
3) As with all good teaching and learning, communicate. Don't just put the board up spontaneously. Explain the purpose and intended outcomes. Explain the expectations for participation, and what the gains will be. With every negative comment, use it as a teachable moment, and help the negative message be more constructive. For example, "I hate all PD" can be repositioned as "I need more personalized PD", or "This board is stupid" could be repositioned as "I have more to say than I can on this board, is there another venue?"
4) My last suggestion would be moving the board online. Padlet is a great digital whiteboard space. Check it out here: https://padlet.com/

I hope this helps, and that you are encouraged to still give it a go!

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Garth,
Thanks for the encouragement. I am not actually worried about negative comments/post-its from teachers, but from parents. And I don't think the comments would be "this board is stupid." For example, we, as a school, are working on what homework means to us. I can see this (or the opportunity board) be a place to discuss this. Since obviously parents have opinions on this (and like most schools we have parents who want no homework to parents who want more homework), some teachers maybe not feel like the board is safe place to put their true opinions. Going online would solve this but I really, really like having this be white board conversation since it will encourage people who don't like to go online to participate. Also, having it where teachers hang out, will remind teachers to think about it.

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

These comments would probably be better on the opportunity board comments... Sorry--have slightly combined the ideas in my brain.

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

I like this idea, and I love the fact that it's visible, on the wall, because that gives it presence. It's symbolic of the culture. I wondered what might happen if I added this board to my school faculty room, tomorrow... and whether or not it should be introduced formally, or just placed there.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Charlie, YES PLEASE! That would be amazing if you would try it out, see what kind of ideas are shared and get feedback. WE are not back in session yet and I would LOVE to actually try the idea with faculty!

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

First I need to find a white board. But I will make it happen! I'm debating whether this idea could accompany a goal I have of making our classrooms more open too, by welcoming random visits from colleagues who just want to check out what's going on that day (for a variety of reasons).

Photo of Valerie Furnas
Team

Would be cool if this was how all faculty meetings began...with growth mindset. Always sharing and innovating.

Photo of Meg Krause
Team

Michael
Great idea! It speaks to a culture of "leave nothing out". It reframes our "failures" as opportunities.
Let's try it out in our new 3-5 learning space.
Meg

Photo of Moss Pike
Team

I like this idea a lot, Michael! I think you're right that we can reframe "failure" by engaging with it in a communal way like this. If we think of innovation as an iterative *process*, then we only fail when we stop. I'm a big fan of the way the Feedback Forum encourages community reflection, since it feels to me as a tool to help us continue to move forward together. Would love to prototype this and see some examples in action!

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

I quite like that!
I would add a place where the specialist teachers could write what they could contribute for the big idea and a place for the other grade teachers could write how could they extend big idea. We might have a space to do that at our new teacher lounge at our school. We will have walls to write on!

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Absolutely! I think the template could be adjusted easily to fit each schools needs. Could also be digital, however, I like the idea of it always being visible for everyone.

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

I also prefer visible so we can tweak whenever needed!