Developing a Feedback Culture

Given that professional development is first and foremost about growth, school communities must embrace meaningful feedback systems.

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Professional development, regardless of how it looks, is about evolution and growth, and in order to grow, we must depend on quality feedback. As Leadership+Design has convincingly argued (cf. their Oct. newsletter), a feedback culture is necessary for learning and growth as educators. Most school cultures I've seen, however, have failed in creating systems that give effective feedback. 

In the book Thanks for the Feedback, the authors argue for 3 basic types of feedback (p. 35):

  • Appreciation: to see, acknowledge, motivate, thank
  • Coaching: to help expand knowledge, sharpen skill, improve capability
  • Evaluation: to rate or rank against standards, align against expectations, inform decision making

More feedback systems are embracing appreciation through expressions of gratitude, and many schools have various systems of evaluation in place (which may or may not be effective). But whether for a lack of time, resources, or something else, I've seen few schools with a meaningful system for coaching and mentorship. We may take part in individualized professional development experiences like conferences, though in my experience, we need more coaching systems within our own communities so that we may grow as a community (rather than growing as individuals). To support professional development, then, we need the kinds of coaching systems that provide mentorship and create conversations within our communities around growth so that we can make professional development experiences more meaningful.

I'm interested in learning more about how schools give feedback to their communities (including students and parents, where possible). I've love to start a discussion around the questions below and hopefully use the discussion to design a better feedback system for schools:

  • How does your school's feedback system make use of the 3 types of feedback in Thanks for the Feedback?
  • Do you have a coaching or mentorship system, and if so, how does it work.
  • What do you consider to be the most meaningful feedback for your own growth? How do you get it, if at all?


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